Being wealthy or old is not a requirement for creating an estate plan. If you are a Millennial, and you haven’t started estate planning, here’s how to get started.
Why Millennials Should Begin Estate Planning Now
Most people start thinking about estate planning upon the occurrence of a significant life event, such as the birth of a child. However, if you have been avoiding estate planning, you are putting yourself at risk. If you were to become ill or die at a young age, who would you want making decisions on your behalf? Does your spouse, companion or family member have the right to make those decisions? Under Ohio law, the person you want to make decisions may not be able to without the right documentation.
You probably don’t want the courts deciding who will make financial or medical decisions for you. And if you have young children to take care of, it gets even more complicated. Who will take care of your children if you are gone?
Basic Estate Planning Documents
Married or single, young or old, not having an estate plan is a mistake. These are the most basic estate planning documents for you to get started:
The last will and testament documents how you want your assets distributed when you die. It also identifies who is in charge of settling your estate (executor) and who will serve as the guardian of your children if you have them. Without this document, a judge that you have never met will decide who will take over handling your assets and raising your children.
A living trust may be appropriate if you have young children. A living trust can be a receptacle for your assets, life insurance and retirement accounts upon your death. In a living trust, a Trustee of your choosing will manage the assets for your children until they attain a certain age or reach a certain milestone, such as graduating from college.
A durable power of attorney states who can make financial decisions for you if you are no longer able to do things like pay bills or manage your assets. This person is your called your attorney in fact and should be someone you really trust.
If you are near death or permanently unconscious, a living will allows you to set forth your preferences for medical care, life-sustaining or resuscitation efforts, and pain medications you wish to receive.
A health care power of attorney allows a designated person to make medical decisions for you in the event you are unable to make them yourself, which includes making certain that the preferences laid out in your living will are followed. This person should know what your wishes are in advance should the occasion arise.
Updated Beneficiaries Are Important
One other thing to remember is to keep your beneficiaries updated. The beneficiaries of an account or life insurance policy takes precedent over what is in your will or living trust.
It’s Never Too Early for Estate Planning
As a Millennial, you probably feel your life is just beginning, and the ending of it is too far off to even consider. Unfortunately, we never know when our time will be up; having an estate plan in place will allow you to enjoy your life knowing your family and your assets will be taken care of in the event of your death or disability.
Paul Kellogg is an attorney in Cincinnati with the Phillips Law Firm, Inc. Paul’s practice focuses on providing comprehensive estate planning and probate services to families and business owners, as well as serving as outside general counsel to entrepreneurs and businesses where he provides guidance and advice on a wide variety of transactions and disputes. He can be reached at (513) 985-2500 or via email at [email protected]. Please explore Paul’s other articles on estate planning and business on the Phillips Law Firm Blog page.
The article is for educational and informational purposes only and does not constitute legal advice. Anyone contemplating taking legal action is urged to obtain proper legal advice from an attorney licensed in your particular jurisdiction.