Under 35? You Still Need an Estate Plan
If you are in your mid-to-late 20s or early 30s, the thought of drafting an estate plan may seem incomprehensible. “Isn’t estate planning for people in their 60s?” some may think.
Answer: No. Everyone, including young Gen Xers, needs an estate plan.
Why? Because life is precious and you never know when it will end.
Here is a prime example – a young married couple died recently in a tragic car accident in Prince George’s County, Maryland. The husband and wife were 34-years-old and 31-years-old, respectively. The news report on this heartbreaking incident mentioned that the couple was simply heading to the grocery store to pick up some items for a family BBQ when their vehicle was struck by an SUV. The young couple had a home and three children.
Just think, in the blink of an eye, this family had their lives turned upside down. Three young children will now have to grow up without their parents. I often get asked when is the right time to do planning. My response is if you can tell me the exact date you will die, then I can get everything ready the day before. Otherwise your plan should be ready to go every day.
An estate plan gives you a voice as to what you want done with your assets if you are not around to speak. An estate plan gives direction to those who are left behind as to how to handle things in the way you would want them to be handled, according to a great Wall Street Journal article written by Tania Brown.
Who will take care of your kids? How will the money be used for your children? Who will manage your social media accounts and possibly set up a remembrance page on Facebook (the company recently enabled users to designate Legacy Contacts)? Who will contact Amazon to manage or close your Prime account? What happens with your student loans? These are the important questions that get addressed with a properly drafted estate plan. For example, you could include a list of your social media accounts, User IDs, passwords and domains with your Last Will and Testament and designate whom you task with overseeing your accounts.
Moreover, estate plans do not cover just the distribution of your assets (and debts) after you pass. An estate plan can, and should, cover what needs to be done in case you become incapacitated. Do you want a say in how you are medically treated if you are unable to make those important, potentially life-altering, decisions? Would you prefer to remain in a persistent vegetative state? Again, these issues can be fleshed out by taking the time to sit down with an experienced estate planning attorney and drafting the necessary legal documents to have a plan in place (e.g., a well-drafted healthcare directive).
Who will pay for burial expenses? How will your debts be paid? If you don’t have immediate answers, an estate plan helps put things in perspective and may encourage you to look into insurance avenues to protect loved ones from unnecessary, and potentially large, expenses after you pass on. If you are under 35 and in good health, purchasing a life insurance plan is usually quite affordable (depending on the type of plan you purchase).
What will happen to your savings and investment accounts? If you have a full-time job, you probably have at least a checking account and some type of retirement plan at your job (e.g., 401K, IRA, etc.). Account titling is key here and can be easily done once your goals are clear.
Remember, a tragedy can happen at any time. All days are precious and you never know when your life’s light will be extinguished. Have a plan in place. It will benefit you, and it will benefit your loved ones in the wake of your passing. Do not put this off any longer. Get your estate plan together.
For more information, take the time to sit down with an experienced estate planning attorney in your area.