When It Comes To Estate Planning, “Too Young” Is Too Often The Excuse
Young people feel invincible. And yet, we all have personal experiences that remind us otherwise. So, why, as an attorney who focuses almost exclusively on estate planning, do I hear the “too young to have an estate plan” justification for not planning, time and again? I am here to tell you that everyone needs an estate plan. Allow me to repeat myself for those in their 20’s and 30’s who are still reading: everyone needs an estate plan.
It has long been the assumption that people at their half-life should begin estate planning to protect what they have worked for. Folks in their 40’s and 50’s are generally established in their careers, have acquired assets and bolstered their bank accounts, and perhaps have adult children or retirement on the horizon. And while it makes good sense that these factors would motivate such a person to have a solid estate plan in place, creating a will, as it turns out, has little to do with money or age.
Estate planning is entirely about planning for the unexpected. I will highlight a few reasons why having a will very much pertains to young adults:
- If you are joining the military, it is a very prudent idea to have your affairs in order. Life is uncertain, and even more so when you are risking yours for our country. Should something happen in the line of duty, your family will not only thank you for your service, but also thank you for thoughtfully putting your wishes down in your will, and taking the guesswork out of it for them.
- In the event of an unforeseen, dire medical situation, you absolutely need an estate plan. When you create your will, you write a health care directive and a financial power of attorney so that the people you choose are making healthcare decisions as you otherwise would for yourself.
- If you have young children, it is imperative that you protect them. In your estate plan, you nominate a guardian to take care of your minor children in the event that you no longer can (i.e. death/incapacitation). Ask any parent, and this is an extremely difficult, emotional, and thoughtful task to appoint the right, trusted friend, or family member for this most-important job. Now ask those same parents what would happen if someone were chosen for them to care for their young children because they did not have a will? Case in point.
- Preserving your intellectual property should absolutely be included in your estate plan. For every moment you have spent documenting your life in meaningful ways through social media, photography, poetry, blogs, videos, etc., it is important and deeply personal to leave instructions for how to handle these accounts. Otherwise, you run the risk of having them erased.
- Finally, when you have an estate plan, you get to choose what happens to your possessions. Should specific items go to friends, family, or your favorite charity? If you do not make your wishes known, your family is left in the dark, and therefore, others will make these decisions for you.
Although it’s a little morbid to think about, death is inescapable. And while I don’t believe any of us should be motivated by fear, being prepared with an estate plan at any age creates peace of mind. How you choose to protect your assets and those you love in your estate plan will change and grow with you over time, so now is the perfect time to simply begin.