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Estate Planning for Millennials: Start Planning Now

Posted by Gregory Robinson | Jul 06, 2024 | 0 Comments

Millennials, your contributions to the workforce and positive changes in the world are significant. Your concerns and priorities may differ from those of previous generations, making it crucial to have an estate plan that reflects your unique needs and goals. Here are key steps to ensure your estate plan is comprehensive and effective.

Choose Your Key Decision-Makers

In case of incapacitation due to severe injury, dementia, or a stroke, no one can manage your affairs without court intervention unless you have designated someone legally. This includes making medical decisions and managing finances. Without a legal designation, even your parents or spouse can't automatically step in.

To ensure you have control over who makes decisions on your behalf, consider these legal tools:

  1. Financial Power of Attorney: Appoint an agent to manage your finances. This can take effect immediately or only if you become incapacitated, depending on your preference and state laws.
  2. Medical Power of Attorney: Designate an agent to make medical decisions for you. These roles can be assigned to the same person or different people based on their skills and your preferences.

Complete Employment Forms Correctly

Millennials, comprising the largest workforce segment with 49.5 million individuals, often have access to employer-provided life insurance and retirement plans. Ensure your beneficiary designations for these benefits are correctly completed. Incorrect or missing designations can lead to probate, which is time-consuming and costly.

Naming Beneficiaries

Life Insurance Beneficiaries

  • Individual Beneficiaries: While leaving a lump sum to a loved one may seem straightforward, it can expose the money to creditors, divorcing spouses, or lawsuits. Consider whether your beneficiaries can handle a large sum responsibly.
  • Trust as Beneficiary: Naming a trust can protect the inheritance, allowing you to dictate how the funds are used and shielding them from creditors.
  • Charity as Beneficiary: This philanthropic option requires coordination with the charity to meet any specific requirements and ensure your wishes are fulfilled.

Retirement Account Beneficiaries

  • Spouse: Naming a spouse as the primary beneficiary can allow for a spousal rollover, providing asset and bankruptcy protection. Alternatively, they can keep it as an inherited account with flexible withdrawal options.
  • Minor Children: Minor children can take required minimum distributions until they reach adulthood, after which they must withdraw the remaining balance within 10 years.
  • Adult Loved Ones: Adult beneficiaries must generally withdraw the entire account within 10 years unless exceptions apply.
  • Trust as Beneficiary: A trust can provide additional protection and control over the distribution of retirement assets.
  • Charity: Naming a charity can reduce estate taxes and support a cause you care about, without income tax consequences.

Planning for Unmarried Millennials

With only 44% of millennials married, it's crucial to have an estate plan that reflects your wishes for your significant others or friends. Without a plan, state laws will dictate the distribution of your assets, potentially excluding those you care about most.

Don't Forget Your Pets

Millennials are the largest group of pet owners. Include provisions for your pets in your estate plan, such as:

  • Caregiver Designation: Choose a caregiver and backups for your pets.
  • Financial Support: Decide whether to set aside funds for pet care, either as a one-time gift or through a trust.
  • Compensation: Consider compensating the caregiver for their time and effort.

Start Planning Now

It's not easy to think about incapacity or death, but planning gives you peace of mind. We're here to help you navigate these important decisions, ensuring your loved ones and pets are well cared for. Contact us to schedule your appointment and start your estate planning today.

About the Author

Gregory Robinson

Attorney Gregory Robinson is a native of Alabama. He earned his Juris Doctor (J.D.) degree from Mitchell Hamline School of Law and holds a Master of Business Administration (MBA) degree from Rice University. Prior to practicing law, he worked as a strategy consultant in the financial industry...

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