It seems strange to think of your own mortality — especially when you are in the prime of your life. This is probably the reason why 78% of millennials do not have even a simple last will and testament in place. Regardless of your age, whether you are a newly-minted adult or a “seasoned” citizen, proper estate planning is essential to protect everyone you love and everything you leave behind at death.
Tip #1 - Planning for Important People
If you are single with no children, then the “people” planning part of your estate plan can be pretty basic. In fact, you are the most important person in your estate plan. For example, have you at least discussed and reduced to writing what your wishes would be in terms of cremation, burial, and any final send-off ceremony? Making difficult decisions today, makes them much easier on grieving family members later.
If you are married without children, have you made arrangements to provide for your spouse? Have you legally appointed your spouse to wrap up any final affairs and to inherit everything directly with the least amount of legal drama?
Do you have a minor child? Whether you are single or married, have you made proper legal arrangements to nominate a guardian (back-up parent), should your child be orphaned? You should be sure to select someone who shares your beliefs and values.
Tip #2 - Planning for Important Property
If you have specific wishes for the distribution of your assets at death, then you must make proper legal plans while alive. Do you have any collections you would want a family member or friend to inherit? In the absence of your written legal instructions, those valuable collections could end up sold online or in a “garage sale,” because no one in the family knew their actual or sentimental value.
For many young adults, “digital assets” may have considerable value. These assets are not physical computers and iPhones, but rather the information stored on digital devices. For instance, e-mail accounts, websites, software programs, social media accounts, online photos, and Bitcoin accounts are examples of digital assets. The fate of these unique assets varies, depending on where you live. However, it is important to address what happens to these assets, if something happens to you, or all access could be lost.
Sometimes the actual planning of an “inheritance” itself is important. For example, if you want to leave an inheritance to someone who is a minor child, is financially immature, or has special needs, then a “trust” should be created to administer, protect and distribute your inheritance.
Some Final Thoughts
Nobody wants to think about passing away, least of all during this exciting time of life. However, this may be a good time for you to take a look at your estate plan. Estate planning does not have to be complex at any stage of life!
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