It may be hard to believe, but the fact is, millennials are all grown up. They are buying homes, starting families, and caring for aging parents. Also, they are—at 22% of the population—the largest living generation in the U.S.
In 2021, Trust & Will did a proprietary study involving 22,850 millennials. The results included many insights into how and why people ages 25 to 44 are creating estate plans.
For instance, while many respondents created a Will or a trust for the usual reasons (34% said that becoming a parent was the inspiration, and 17% said that the pandemic was what made them take action), others are taking a non-traditional approach to estate planning.
For example, almost a quarter of the individuals surveyed designated non-family members to be trustees, guardians, or beneficiaries of their estates. And almost half of the respondents opted for cremation over a conventional burial.
There are plenty of millennials who are delaying the start of their estate planning. It’s understandable. The process might seem daunting, or unnecessary for a younger person to get their affairs in order.
However, when it comes to estate planning, there really is no time like the present; and study participants cited feeling “relieved” and “accomplished” once they’d created the relevant legal documents.
Loved Ones — Kids, Parents, and Pets
In addition to all the standard estate planning documents (a Will or trust, advance medical directive, power of attorney, etc.) there are certain considerations that millennials should pay special attention to.
- Although millennials are grown up, their children might still be quite young. So, unlike generations before them whose children are grown, the millennial generation has a special responsibility to plan for the care of their kids. This involves not only providing for them financially, but also selecting and designating a guardian who will assume parental responsibility in the case of unexpected death or incapacitation.
- Millennials also make up 39% of the “sandwich” generation—adults who provide financial and hands-on support to both their own kids and their aging parents. Because of this, millennials may also need to consider ways their estate planning can ensure the wellbeing of their parents.
- And, finally, there are the four-legged members of the family. Millennials represent the largest number of pet owners in the U.S.—32%. So, it’s not surprising that many millennials include their pet’s care as part of their estate plan .
Alternatives to Marriage
Even though millennials are the largest generation in American history, they are the least likely to be married, opting instead to cohabitate with a significant other. The challenge with this kind of arrangement is that unmarried couples aren’t automatically entitled to the legal protections and benefits that are a given for couples that have said, “I do.”
For instance, unmarried couples will not be able to take advantage of inheritance rights, tax benefits, or Social Security/disability/insurance benefits. And, perhaps most distressing, if not handled ahead of time, is the inability to make medical choices for a partner.
A well-designed estate plan can counteract many of these limitations. In some cases, crafting an advance directive that provides clear instructions about healthcare preferences and decisions can save a lot of trouble down the road.
Digital Asset Management
As the first generation to have access to computers from a very young age, millennials have existed fully immersed in the digital world. From social media and personal photo archives to digital intellectual property and online bank accounts, there can be a lot of assets that a millennial might want to pass along to someone else.
A digital estate plan not only lists all the relevant assets, it also includes access information. So it’s important to make sure that:
- documents are updated regularly
- each time a password is changed on an account, it also updated in the estate plan
- the platform-specific rules about transferring accounts after death are reviewed
The Bottom Line: Take action sooner than later. Do things your own way.
Estate planning might seem like an overly traditional thing to do, but it’s important for all generations and can be done in such a way that it is an expression of who the individual is, how they have lived, and the legacy they want to leave behind.
The main thing is to get it done sooner than later.
If you’d like to explore your estate planning options, or just have questions, feel free to drop us an email or call us at (860) 236-7673. We can help you develop a plan that’s just right for you and your loved ones. Besides, we really enjoy meeting millennials!
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