Millennials and Estate Planning

Millennials and Estate Planning

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Who is Millennian

Millennials, also known as the Net Generation (generation Y), are the demographic cohort that directly follows Generation X. The History of America’s Future are often credited with coining the term.

Characteristics of Millennials

There is a great deal of variation from one individual to another within any generational cohort. Nevertheless, the particular environment for any generation affects those individuals in ways that are observable as broad tendencies. Having been raised under the mantra “follow your dreams” and being told they were special, Millennials tend to be confident. While largely a positive trait, the Millennial generation’s confidence can sometimes spill over into the realms of entitlement and narcissism.  They are often seen as slightly more optimistic about the future of America than other generations — despite the fact that they are the first generation since the Silent Generation that is expected to be less economically successful than their parents.

Millennian and Estate Planning

Between student loans and often delaying getting married, buying first homes and having children, your first reaction may be that “estate planning” and “millennials” don’t belong in the same sentence. Yet, all millennials are now legal adults and need the basic documents that all adults should have. Millennials with children, pets, student loan debt, and certain assets and goals often require additional planning.

 Millennials Need a Durable Power of Attorney and Patient Advocate Designation and Living Will

Legal adults, no matter how young, need a Durable Power of Attorney and a Patient Advocate Designation and Living Will. A Durable Power of Attorney names an agent to act on your behalf with respect to financial and other decisions in the event of your legal incapacity. A Patient Advocate Designation and Living Will spells out end of life wishes and names a patient advocate to act on your behalf with respect to medical decisions if you are unable to meaningfully participate on your own. When you become a legal adult, your parents no longer have this legal role; if you haven’t named an agent, a probate court proceeding can be required before someone is able to act on your behalf.

Millennials May Need a Trust and/or a Last Will and Testament

The need for testamentary documents will depend upon the extent of your assets, the type of assets involved and your goals for those assets. If all assets can be transferred via joint ownership or beneficiary designation, such as a bank account, these documents may not be essential. The need for these documents should be assessed with your estate planning attorney, as many common estate planning goals can only be accomplished with a trust.

 Millennials Need a Plan for their Digital Assets

Millennials grew up online and are the first generation to be considered “digital natives”. From social media and blogs to email and online banking, it’s important to take an inventory of your online presence so your wishes can be honored. Maybe you want your Facebook page memorialized or a financially successful blog continued. Maybe you want to give a relative access to an ancestry or genealogy research account. No matter the asset, it’s important to keep a secure list of user names and passwords with a corresponding instruction for the account, or utilize a reputable service to do so.

 For Millennials with Children

Anyone with minor children needs to name a guardian for their children in the event of the death or incapacity of both parents. The guardian is the person with whom the children will live. A conservator, which is the person who will manage any assets for the children which are not “funded” to the trust, should also be nominated; though if the trust is completely funded as intended, the trustee will manage all of the financial assets for the children instead.

For Millennials without Children

Your priorities for estate planning will likely be very different if you do not have children. You may be less concerned with ensuring an inheritance in favor of prioritizing the best possible care and comfort for you and, if married, your spouse (and you likely have greater assets to pay for that care because you don’t have the expenses associated with children). You might also prioritize planning for the future of any pets who may outlive you, charitable goals, and/or financially helping nieces and nephews or other relatives.

 For Millennials with Pets

Millennials have adopted more pets than any prior generation and generally consider them to be members of the family. If you have children, you may want to ensure that a family pet stays with your children, providing continuity for both the children and the pet. If you don’t have children,  you may prioritize securing your pet’s future above other estate planning goals. While pets are property under the law, a pet trust – where a pet is treated as a beneficiary and not as property to be distributed.

For Millennials with Student Loans

Knowing the differences between federal and private student loans is imperative. Most notably, federal student loans are generally forgiven upon death whereas private lenders will pursue an estate for amounts owed by deceased borrowers. For more on how student loans can impact your estate plan, please see our recent publication on the differences between federal and private student loans.

For Millennials Who Want to Make a Social Impact

From establishing nonprofit organizations to directing that trust assets be invested in favorite causes, from arranging for environmentally friendly disposition of your body to benefitting favorite charities with life insurance proceeds, your estate planning attorney will be able to make both standard and creative recommendations on how you can accomplish philanthropic goals in your estate planning.

Get help

If you would like to learn more about the necessity of estate planning, any one of our estate planning attorneys would be happy to assist you.

DISCLAIMER: The information provided in this blog is for informational purposes only and should not be considered legal advice. The content of this blog may not reflect the most current legal developments. No attorney-client relationship is formed by reading this blog or contacting Morgan Legal Group.

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