I know what you’re thinking: “Does he seriously think I should put together a full estate plan when I’m only 25 and have more debt than assets?” Well, yes, sort of.
Trust plan? Probably not. But it’s never too early to get your affairs in order. Here are four ways your can plan today, as someone in their 20’s, to make things easier for your family in the event that something unexpected happens:
It seems like just yesterday your parents were able to go with you to the Doctor’s office and get in on your medical decisions – giving parental consents and whatnot. Those days are long gone. Now, if you want your parents to be able to coordinate your care with your physicians, they’ll need to be HIPAA authorized and, if you’re incapacitated, nominated as your agent in your Healthcare Power of Attorney. Too often the news will report an unfortunate accident involving a college student leaving the parents powerless without a court-appointed guardianship. Save them the hassle and get it done ahead of time. Your healthcare POA will also let you direct the disposition of your remains after you pass. Don’t want a traditional Catholic mass and burial like Mom always wanted? Write it down in your healthcare POA.
If you’re single and have no children, your estate is likely going to go to your parents whether you have a will or not. What a will allows, though, is for your affairs to be in order and for the probate process to be streamlined for your parents. Keep in mind, they’re already going to be dealing with the immense tragedy of your passing – things would be a lot easier for them if your estate was already planned.
Any type of account that will allow it – name a beneficiary who will either receive the account itself or the value of the account after you pass. Have a beneficiary designation on an account keeps that account out of probate. If you’re in your mid-to-late 20’s, you likely have a 401k, IRA, or Roth IRA set up for retirement. You likely have a life insurance policy, either through work or privately. Both of those types of accounts/policies allow for a beneficiary (and most time contingent beneficiaries) to be named. Make sure your beneficiary designations are up-to-date.
Digital assets are more important to milennials than any other generation: Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Reddit, etc. Often, after a person passes, their Facebook profile page becomes a memorial page – constantly receiving posts and memories. Some people send private messages, knowing the person will not be there to read it. If you want your family to be able to take over your social pages and receive these messages, you need to plan for that now. Keep a written or digital record of all of your accounts and passwords in a place where your family can find them. Nothing will mean more to your parents than having these memories to return to on important dates and anniversaries.
You’re not invincible. Accidents happen everyday. Take some time this week and get your affairs in order.