Estate Planning for the Young and Restless

Dear fellow millennials, estate planning is not the kind of fun adulting discussion we look forward too but it’s an extremely part of being a serious conscious millennial.

Estate Planning? I’m YOUNG.

No one expects to be incapacitated, but unfortunately, it does happen. It’s easy to think that you still have decades of time ahead of you for estate planning. The thing about the unexpected is that it only happens when it is unexpected. If it does, there are several documents you will need (By making a power of attorney for example, you can allow others to make decisions on your behalf should you become incapable.)

Estate planning is one of the most important steps any person (including YOU) can take to make sure that their final property and health care wishes are honored, and that loved ones are provided for in their absence. A comprehensive estate plan can resolve a number of legal questions that arise whenever anyone dies.

What is an “Estate”?

School loan debts? Check. Income? check (hopefully). But guess what, you actually have MORE than school loan debts and your income. So yes, your estate is probably bigger than you think.

Keep reading.

So what could your estate consist of?

  • Real estate and property
  • Retirements accounts
  • Family and collector memorabilia
  • Bank accounts
  • Stocks and other securities,
  • Life insurance policies
  • Automobiles, jewelry, artwork, electronics, home furnishings and also:
  • Digital assets, social media accounts, websites, photos

Digital Assets and Estate Planning

A report by Deloitte estimated that by 2020, the average Canadian will have accumulated over $10,000 in digital assets.

Yes, over $10,000. Similar to the physical and financial assets typically provided for in a Will, digital assets hold both sentimental and monetary value. According to Kimberly Whaley, digital assets can take many forms, such as:

  • Microsoft Office documents
  • Pictures
  • Templates/spreadsheets
  • Tweets (yes even tweets)
  • Photos
  • Videos
  • Blog posts
  • Emails
  • Music collections
  • Playlists
  • Hotel rewards
  • Travel rewards

Whaley distinguishes between digital assets and digital accounts. Digital accounts are used to access files:

  • Email accounts
  • Social network accounts (Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Pinterest, LinkedIn account and all these new accounts we can’t keep up with)
  • File sharing accounts
  • Software licenses

With the amount of digital property owned by millennials constantly increasing, it’s crucial to address such property in your estate plan to avoid losing monetary and sentimental value or potentially creating negative consequences. Legislation varies depending on where you live regarding the disposal of or rights and succession to digital assets. There may not even be a legal framework available where you live.

How Can an Estate Plan Help?

An estate plan can:

  • Identify the family members and other loved ones that you wish to receive your property after your death.
  • Ensure that your property will be transferred to those you have identified.
  • Minimize the amount of taxes that will need to be paid in order for your property to pass to others after your death.
  • Dictate the kinds of life-prolonging medical care you wish to receive should you be unable to make your wishes known when the time comes.
  • Set forth the kind of funeral arrangements you would like, and how related expenses are to be paid.

Next Steps

When you think about your assets in the context of estate planning, it is important to distinguish between a will and a power of attorney. A will deals with disposition of a person’s assets after death and takes effect only on death. In contrast, a power of attorney is used during one’s lifetime and terminates on death. Consult a REPUTABLE estates lawyer to discuss what qualifies as an asset, why it is worth including in an estate plan at all, and what, if any, tax implications may arise.

(Important reminder: this article is  for general informational purposes only.)

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