Estate planning isn’t just for baby boomers—it’s important for millennials, too. Every adult needs an estate plan, no matter how old they are. This step-by-step guide explains more.

Four Essential Estate Planning Steps for Millennials

When it comes to estate planning, millennials are well ahead of the game. Many have been assisting their parents with the estate planning process, and others have even started setting up their own estate plans. It’s never too late or too early to get started—life is uncertain, so before you get any older, here are the four most important steps to take.

Four Essential Estate Planning Steps for Millennials

    1. Write a will and have it witnessed.
    2. Establish a trust to protect your assets or provide for your dependents.
    3. Set up a digital vault for your passwords, cloud storage, and other cyber assets.
    4. Designate a power of attorney agent who can act in your best interests if you are ever incapacitated.

Step 1: Write Your Will

Every adult needs a will. If you die without one, you get no say over who inherits your property or who raises your children. And even if you don’t have any children or a lot of money in the bank, there are still many reasons to make a will. For example, you could use your will to donate your art collection to your favorite museum, pass on a treasured family heirloom, or name a new guardian for your pet.

To make it legal, you’ll need to sign your will in the presence of two qualifying witnesses, and have them sign the document as well. If you meet with an estate planning attorney, they can advise you on what (and what not) to include in your will, and help you avoid the common mistakes people make when they try to write a will themselves. They can even witness the will for you, and ensure that it is legally valid.

Step 2: Set Up a Trust

You might be surprised to discover how useful a trust can be—there are all kinds of trusts, and they can be adapted to suit your goals and your financial situation. Setting up a trust can protect your assets from taxes, probate, lawsuits, and even collectors. A trust can help secure your children’s financial future, or even make sure that your fur-family is provided for. 

Many types of assets can be included in a trust, from investment accounts and shareholdings, to real estate, cars, or even jewelry. After you decide on the type of trust you want, you’ll need to prepare the trust documents, fund the trust, and appoint a trustee to manage it. Setting up a trust is a fairly simple process, but it does take some careful planning. It’s always a good idea to meet with an estate planning lawyer who can help you make sure that your trust is set up correctly.

Step 3: Set Up a Digital Vault

Every millennial has digital assets, whether they jumped in on the cryptocurrency trend or not. The average person has at least 100 different accounts with password protection, for everything from Airbnb to Venmo. But you can’t just make a list of all your logins and passwords and leave it lying around—the safest way to secure that information is to keep it in a digital vault.

Setting up a digital vault also means that all of your personal data is stored in one place, making it easier for the executor of your estate to carry out your instructions. Do you want someone to shut down your social media profiles after you die? What will happen to all the files in your Google docs, or the photos and videos in your cloud storage? Who will cancel all your subscriptions? Besides distributing your assets to your beneficiaries and settling your debts, your executor can also deal with your personal accounts and digital memorabilia. 

Step 4: Appoint a Power of Attorney

Another important document that you need in your estate plan is a power of attorney (POA). This document grants your personal representative the right to make financial and/or medical decisions on your behalf, if you are ever unable to. For example, if you were injured in an accident and went into a coma, who would make decisions about your medical care? Who would pay your mortgage or make arrangements for paying your medical bills?

Some people worry that if they give someone else their power of attorney, they might end up losing legal autonomy like Brittney Spears. However, if Brittney had appointed a POA to act on her behalf, when she was declared incompetent she might have been able to avoid the whole conservatorship fiasco. The most important thing to remember about appointing a POA is to choose a person that you can trust, who will follow your instructions and put your best interests first.

Meet with an Estate Planning Attorney Near You

Estate planning can get complicated, and if you don’t know exactly what you’re doing, things won’t work out the way you planned. So don’t rely on internet advice and free templates—meet with an estate planning attorney who can answer all of your questions and give you advice based on your unique situation.

With seven convenient locations throughout the Phoenix area, we’re sure to have an office near you. So if you’re curious about estate planning or ready to get started, schedule a free consultation today.


Photo by Luisa Brimble on Unsplash used with permission under the Creative Commons license for commercial use 2/06/2024.

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