When you hear someone talk about getting their affairs in order or planning their estate, you likely think of someone older in age. They're not the only ones who have assets to protect or loved ones with futures that they need to plan for though. Millennials do too.
A Gallup poll published in 2016 showed that fewer Americans are drafting wills while they're 30-years-old or younger. In 2005, 24% of them had them. By 2016, that number had dropped to 14%. A study published in 2017 by Caring.org showed that 36% of Generation Xers (then 37 to 54-year-olds) had wills. Even fewer (12%) of millennials did.
It's important that you do some estate planning, even if you have few assets. By doing so, you'll ensure that your final wishes are upheld if you're faced with an untimely death.
You should start by drafting a living will. Here you will spell out what life-furthering attempts that you'd want doctors to take to keep you alive.
Drafting a health care proxy or power of attorney is also important. This is where you identify who you'd want to make medical decisions on your behalf if you were too incapacitated to do so yourself. If you sign a Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) release, then you can give your doctors your consent to share your private health information with them.
Every adult should also have a will in place to give others instructions about how their assets should be split up.
Unless you have a will in place, then assets even as small as bank accounts, collections, cars and other possessions could get passed on to someone that you perhaps don't feel close with.
Digital assets such as photographs, music, credit card mileage points and social media accounts can be included in wills. Millennial parents can also use them to appoint a guardian to take care for their child if something happens to them.
All states including Maryland have different laws in place for what constitutes a valid will. There are certain requirements for how other estate planning documents must be drafted as well.
It's important that you don't put off writing a will or health care proxy just because you're young. An estate planning attorney in Frederick can discuss with you why it's important that you have these in place now and why you should regularly review and update them.