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Thursday, July 6, 2017

Millennials - Time to Start Planning for your Estate! (Part 1)

                                               

Millennials are known for being digitally dependent, optimistic about the future, and the generation with the highest student loan debt (sigh).  This oft-scrutinized generation is also criticized for being lax when it comes to “adulting” and planning for their fiscal future.

However, this does not negate the need to talk about estate planning when it comes to this generation.  When you think of estate planning, you may think it is only for the elderly, wealthy, families or nearly dead, right??  Surprisingly, estate planning is not only for the retired, wealthy individual.

Planning for your future is an essential step in ensuring that your loved ones do not get forgotten by legal standards.  Although seemingly daunting, estate planning, if started early enough, can be quite simple.  A will is a good start; however, it alone may not include all the safety nets you might want or need (& is likely subject to the probate/guardianship/conservatorship process).  Alternatively, a trust-based estate plan may be a better (& surprisingly affordable) way to create a safety net that you can grow with as you acquire assets!  

As I was thinking about this, I thought “Hey, I don’t really have any big assets to put into a trust, so why even do it?” Apparently, this is a common thought among Millennials.  Surprisingly, most of us have more assets than we realize; that is not to say that you won’t acquire the more traditional type of assets in the future.

“Many millennials (myself, included,) ask me: “Why would I need an Estate Plan?  I haven’t bought a home or have come close to paying off my student loans, etc.”.  While these reasons are justifiable, they may not realize that estate planning doesn’t just include planning for a vast amount of wealth- everyone over the age of 18 needs at, the very least, a foundational estate plan, so that someone can take care of your bills and accounts, make health care decisions if you're unable to, and most importantly, take care of your kids, in the tragic event you’re incapacitated or pass away.”     

        – Tiffany Ballenger Floyd, Esq.

For Millennials with kiddos, it is imperative that you protect your assets and ensure that your children are protected.  Without any estate directive, your entire estate can go through probate.  This is a long and involved process that is costly and unfortunately, frequently creates tension within the family.  Regardless of your planning philosophy, this is not the legacy you want to leave for your kids.  Life insurance, for example, is a great way to leave something for your children, however, without proper estate planning, the entire life insurance amount gets disbursed to minors upon their 18th birthday. Even more troubling, without any sort of directive, if you pass away while your children are minors, guardianship contests in court are nightmares--- your kids could even end up in the custody of Child Protective Services while everything gets hashed out in Court!!

Millennials, we are now entering or have just entered the stage of our lives where we are getting professional jobs, starting families, buying homes, etc.  (Never thought it would come, I know!)  According to Brookings Institute, Millennials will make up as much as 75% of the workforce by 2025.  Click here for more facts on Millennials.  Let’s explore some options to start planning for your estate.  Look for next week’s post on what goes into a typical Foundational Estate Plan! 

 

-Laura Bown, Law Clerk, Phillips Ballenger, PLLC/Juris Doctor Candidate, 2018, William S. Boyd School of Law, UNLV


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