March 13, 2019

Estate Planning For Millennials

Written By

Hannah M. Dill
Member, Stoll Keenon Ogden PLLC

The Millennial generation encompasses anyone born between the years 1980 and 2000. Millennials are postponing traditional life milestones—like purchasing a home, getting married, and having children—due to the job market, the pursuit of advanced degrees, student loan debt, different life choices and a myriad of other reasons. This article will discuss five key reasons why Millennials should not postpone meeting with an attorney to discuss their estate planning needs.

1) Disposition of your property.  If you die without a last will and testament the laws of the state in which you reside will determine who receives your assets. For example, in both Indiana and Kentucky, if a married person with no children dies without out a will, that person’s parents are entitled to a share of his or her estate. Similarly, if an unmarried person with no children dies without a will, that person’s assets will pass to his or her surviving parents (IN and KY). The default laws account for a multitude of circumstances that determine who is entitled to your estate. It is important to meet with an attorney to discuss these laws and determine if they are in accordance with your estate planning goals.

2) Planning for your incapacity. Whether traveling abroad or Ubering to happy hour, accidents happen. In the event of an accident or illness that leaves you unable to manage and make decisions with respect to important aspects of your life, such as your finances and health care, it is important to ensure that someone you know and can rely on is prepared to look out for your best interests. Advanced directives and Powers of Attorney allow you to plan ahead for such unfortunate events by appointing the person or persons you trust to handle your affairs. Implementing these documents will save your loved ones time and money in the event of a sudden accident or illness, and guarantee you get the care you need as soon as possible.

3) Updating Beneficiary Designations. Retirement accounts are often a Millennial’s most significant asset. Failure to designate a beneficiary on these accounts means all the assets in your accounts will pass under the default rules of your state of residence. As discussed in Paragraph 1 above, this could result in your most significant assets being passed down to someone you did not intend to receive it, such as an ex-partner, spouse or sibling. Your estate planning attorney will help you review the beneficiary designations on your retirement plans and life insurance policies to ensure that they name the person(s) you want to inherit those assets.

4) Caring for Pets. A recent study by Wakefield Research found that 35% of all pets in the US are owned by Millennials and 82% of Millennials are likely to feel that their pet is part of their family.[1] It makes sense then that sufficient consideration should be given to who will care for your pet in the event of your death or incapacity. You worked hard for your pet to have nice things and incorporating your pet into your estate plan will ensure that they continue to be cared for after your death.

5) Managing your Online Accounts and Digital Assets. You don’t need to be Instagram verified to care about what happens to your digital footprint upon your death or incapacity. Often, your loved ones will be required to provide extensive documentation to access your online financial accounts, email, social media accounts, etc. Your estate planning attorney can help you craft a plan that authorizes a trusted loved one to access and manage some or all of your digital records upon your death.

These topics are a starting point to begin thinking about your estate planning needs. The Trust & Estates attorneys at Stoll Keenon Ogden are happy to meet with you to discuss your specific situation and create the estate plan that best fits your needs.  

[1] Wakefield Research, “The Millennial Pet Owner”, Pet Industry Joint Advisory Council (April 23, 2014).

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