As a Santa Barbara estate planning attorney, I know Millennials have a lot going on; they are starting their careers, buying their first homes, and starting their families. With so many “beginnings,” it's hard to imagine finding time to stop and think about “the end.”
A lot of people think that they are too young to need a Will or Trust. It's one of those tasks that when we are young, we say that we'll “get to later.” But estate planning is not just about planning for your death. Instead, estate planning allows you to start your adult life off on a firm legal and financial foundation. It helps to ensure that you stay in control, that what you are working so hard for stays protected, and that all of your bases are covered… just in case. Here are five scenarios where an estate plan would be an invaluable gift for your growing family:
You could become disabled or incapacitated.
Sadly, tragedies happen every day, and youth does not make you immune to them. If something happens to you and you are no are longer able to make decisions regarding your own financial, legal, and medical affairs, you'll need to make sure that there are basic documents in place such as a Medical Directive, Power of Attorney, and HIPAA authorization so someone of your choosing can.
You need to ensure your assets are passed according to your wishes.
I know what you are thinking. At this stage of life, you may not own many assets. Even if you do not yet own your own home, you need to consider IRAs, retirement accounts, and life insurance accounts offered through your employer. You need to make sure that beneficiaries are named in the right way to make sure that the people you want to leave them to get the maximum benefit.
You need to name guardians for your kids.
If you have children, you simply must name guardians. You should be the one who decides who will raise them if you are no longer around. Otherwise, this decision could be left to squabbling relatives or to a court system who doesn't know you or your child.
You might need to create a prenup before you say, “I do.”
If you're like most Millennials, you may have chosen to focus first on your career and, in turn, push marriage back until you have experienced some level of success in the workforce. This means that by the time you choose to tie the knot, you could be entering the marriage with significant assets that you worked to grow during the years that you were single. A prenuptial or ‘prenup' can help ensure that these funds do not become “comingled” as marital assets when you decide to legally blend your financial life with another person.
You need to plan for your pets.
If you have a pet, chances are they are a big part of your life. They are totally devoted to you and totally dependent on you. Have you stopped to think what might happen to them if something were to happen to you? If you want to make sure your companion is cared for if the unexpected happens, you should choose to put together a plan for their continued care. The plan may include directions about feeding, medical care, and other needs along with funds necessary to provide for your pet's support and to compensate the caretaker.
The scenarios above are just a few to consider when deciding if you need a Will or Trust or asset protection plan. I'd encourage you to take the time to talk to a Santa Barbara will and trusts lawyer about how to plan out your estate for this phase of your life. Your attorney will help you create documents that can evolve and grow as you do and are designed to meet the needs of your family throughout the years. If you'd like help getting started, give our Santa Barbara estate planning law firm a call at (805) 946-1550 to schedule a consultation.