Young & Unprotected: The Importance of Estate Planning for Millennials

by Tim Stallings & Geoff Kunkler
“Estate planning.” The very name carries with it the implication, if not assumption, that one has an estate. For many young people the idea that they have assets worth protecting is just as preposterous as spending to protect an estate that in their mind does not exist. However, traditional financial vehicles are not your only asset. Your health, financial choices, family’s future security, and wishes in the event of your passing are all easy to delineate with some simple planning documents.
Most parents (and kids) are unaware that when a young person turns 18, a child’s parents are no longer presumed to make healthcare decisions on their behalf. This can come as a particular shock to college bound students leaving home for the first time. In the event that they face an emergency their parents cannot be informed of their condition, let alone make decisions or guide their care. Whether this is a parent, sibling, significant other, or friend, it is critical to have a Healthcare Power of Attorney (HPOA)in place so that your loved ones can help you through the difficulties of a health crisis without the added burden of a paperwork crisis.While many people will experience health problems that require the use of an HPOA and prepare accordingly, few consider the possibility that their family may be forced to make decisions regarding their end of life care. We all recall the Terry Schaivo case, and no one wants to cause their loved ones the anguish of wondering about your end of life wishes. Whatever choices you would like to make regarding your end of life care, our office can create a customized Living Will that removes the burden of decision making from your family, should it ever need to be necessary.Every adult, no matter what age, has financial matters that need to be managed, whether they are as simple as keeping up with mail and utilities or as complex as running a small business. In the event that you are unable to handle your financial affairs, a Durable Financial Power of Attorney (DFPOA) ensures that the people you want to be managing them are in charge. Furthermore, if you have a child you can nominate a DFPOA guardian for that child in the event you are unable to make those financial decisions while you are still alive.Lastly, no estate, no matter how small, is complete without a will. This final document also allows you to direct the guardianship of your children and the general distribution of your estate. If you would like your car given to a sibling, a donation made to charity, jewelry gifted to friends, or any other specific distributions, a will ensures that your loved ones can distribute your property according to your wishes.

While it can be difficult for a young person to consider the possibility of facing health troubles or even death, early estate planning can make later asset protection work simpler and more effective, while protecting a young person today.