By Winnie Sun
Learn more about Winnie at NerdWallet’s Ask an Advisor.
Ask millennials to write down a list of their plans, and it’s likely to be chock-full of career accomplishments and vacation experiences. Graduating, getting a great job, getting married, starting a family, buying a home and traveling are likely to be high on the list.
Odds are you’ll be on Page 5 or 6 before you get to estate planning.
It’s not a surprise that people in their 20s and 30s wouldn’t have estate planning at the top of their mind. After all, the creation of legal documents such as living wills, last wills and testaments, powers of attorney for medical and financial well-being, and potential trusts is a foreign concept to many people, especially those who aren’t married or don’t have children. Many people assume you don’t need to work on those plans until your 50s or 60s.
That’s a big mistake. The reality is that everyone needs to be thinking about estate planning.
The millennial view of money
Many millennials have embarked on parenthood, caregiving and other stressful responsibilities. But they tend to view money from an entirely different perspective from preceding generations.
Growing up in the shadow of the recession and under the weight of sometimes crippling student loan debt, many millennials are responsible with their finances, contrary to sky-is-falling reports.
Being good with money, though, isn’t enough. Part of being fiscally responsible is planning for the long term. More than 60% of Americans don’t have a will, according to a 2015 Harris Poll. That needs to change.
The benefits of estate planning
No matter where you are in your financial life, it pays to think about estate planning.
A full estate plan can include health care directives that cover your preferences for how you want doctors to administer your care if you become incapacitated.
Estate plans also include appointing a durable power of attorney to oversee your finances and personal affairs if you’re unable to do so. This is especially important to the many millennials who are living with a partner but have decided they don’t want to sign a marriage license. That may be perfectly fine for their relationship, but it can be a problem under the law. Creating estate planning documents can ensure your partner has the legal rights to oversee your care or estate, if that is what you want.
For families with children, estate plans are especially important. A good estate plan lets you appoint a guardian for your children should something ever happen to you and directs how you want your inheritance bequeathed. You get to decide.
Online legal document companies offer legal documents at a great price. You may also want to consult a financial advisor, who can help direct you in the best ways to set up your financial plan and assets.
Then come up with an estate plan that suits your needs and go get those documents signed. Don’t wait another week.