Estate planning is likely not top of mind for most millennials. Many are focused on starting or growing their careers and families and may believe they have not accumulated enough wealth to make estate planning worthwhile. There is a common misconception that only older adults, or millennials with significant wealth, need a Will. However, there are several reasons why estate planning is still important for the typical millennial. Let’s look at a few examples.
If you have minor children, a Will is the best way to appoint a legal guardian for your children in the event of your death. Appointing a guardian in your Will helps to ensure that someone you trust can step in and take care of your children right away, without needing to apply to court for legal guardianship (creating uncertainty and additional expense). If you have pets, as many millennials do, a Will can also appoint a guardian for your pet and even provide a fund to ensure that the pet’s expenses will be covered. Without a pet clause in a Will, a pet may need to be put up for adoption if no one steps forward to care for them. A Will is also the primary means of planning the distribution of your assets upon death to family, friends or favourite charities. Even if your assets are modest, it is still preferable for you to decide how they will be distributed, especially if you want some or all of your assets to go to friends or other loved ones who are not blood relatives. Without a proper Will, your estate will be distributed according to BC law, and the distribution may not align with your wishes. A Will can also allow you to protect your digital assets, including social media, online accounts and cryptocurrencies, by designating someone you trust to protect your privacy and to facilitate the management of those digital assets. Dying without a Will creates challenges for your loved ones as it places the burden on them to sort out your affairs, which can be a time-consuming and expensive task at an emotional time. Having a Will in place brings peace of mind with the knowledge that your loved ones will be able to follow your stated wishes and directions to resolve the legal, financial and child care issues raised by your death. In addition to a Will, millennials may want to consider having a Power of Attorney and Representation Agreement in place. A Power of Attorney allows you to designate someone to take care of your legal and financial affairs if you are unable to do so, which can be useful if you are dealing with an unexpected illness or injury, or are out of province for work or holidays. A Representation Agreement allows you to provide directions regarding your health care wishes and to appoint a representative to make decisions on your behalf if you are incapable. Think of it as a medical Power of Attorney. As more and more millennials build their families, enter the real estate market and accumulate other assets, it is becoming increasingly important for them to have an estate plan in place. The peace of mind that comes with knowing your affairs are in order makes estate planning a worthwhile investment – just ask your parents or grandparents!