Thinking ahead can protect your assets and those you love
For La Crosse area residents born between 1981 and 1996, estate planning might be low on the list of priorities. You have your career to consider; maybe you're moving in with your significant other, getting married or buying and maintaining a home. Maybe you've even started a family. Estate planning might be the furthest thing from your mind, but the truth is that it's prime time for millennials to start thinking and planning, even though you may still feel like you're just hitting your stride. But estate planning early on allows you to prepare for life's unexpected twists and turns — and to be confident your affairs are in order in case you're unable to make decisions for your estate.
Here's what you should know.
Why estate planning is vital for millennials
You're in the prime of your life. But if the past several years have taught us anything, it's that we cannot take our health and well-being for granted. Though it may seem unlikely that you'll experience a serious injury or illness anytime in your life, the unimaginable happens to people of all ages and levels of health. An accident can render anyone unable to make their own health care or financial decisions, and as a legal adult, your parents can't automatically make those calls for you any longer. More, who will make decisions about your end-of-life care if you are seriously injured? Who will care for those you love?
Tips to keep in mind for your estate plan
Tip: Entrust the right people to manage your affairs. Estate planning helps you get these matters in order, so you can determine who holds power of attorney and who serves as executor of your estate. This enables people you trust to manage your finances and financial obligations in your stead or make decisions about your health care. Without determining who holds the power of attorney for your assets and your well-being, the matter may go to court, subjecting your loved ones to additional challenges in the midst of what would likely already be a difficult time for them.
Tip: Be aware of your online presence and digital assets. You may also have digital assets, including online accounts, videos and photos, even cryptocurrencies or online financial accounts. Most people don't stop to think about what happens to those assets after they are injured or pass on. Through estate planning with a trusted attorney, you can determine who has permission to manage and operate the accounts and assets, so your possessions in the digital space are protected, whether they are of financial, personal or sentimental value.
Tip: Look out for those you love. Of course, many millennials have children, and ensuring they're taken care of is essential. You also might have animal companions in your home, and if you do, chances are their care is important to you. Who would take care of your pet in the event you can't?
Millennials often have aging parents to consider in their financial and personal plans. Your parents may plan to leave an inheritance to you, or they may depend upon you as they age and need additional care and support. That's a lot of responsibility, and it may feel like a distant possibility that these matters would fall upon your shoulders. By working with an estate planning attorney, you can make sure others know your wishes related to your loved ones' needs, including your significant other, children, parents and pets.
Tip: Plan your legacy. Millennials are known as a generation that cares about others and the world around them, so it's natural that your generosity would play a role in your estate plan. If you have causes and charities you care about, you may want to think about philanthropy as a part of your estate plan. Even if you feel you don't have much wealth or property, a gift specified in your estate plan can be a meaningful way to leave a legacy. You can also discuss with your attorney your wishes to donate your organs in the event of your untimely passing — or your preference not to donate.
Estate planning attorneys in the La Crosse area
Putting your wishes into place with an estate plan is a gift to yourself and those you care about, and it can provide you with the peace of mind that comes with knowing your affairs are in order. More, it enables you to leave a legacy.
Is it time to talk about your estate plan? Working with an experienced estate planning attorney in La Crosse, Holmen and surrounding areas is an important first step. We can help you plan for the unexpected, whether it's developing your last will and testament, a living trust, determining guardianship of your children or pets, naming an executor and power of attorney and more.
Contact us today to schedule an appointment with one of our attorneys to discuss your estate plan or to update your estate plan to align with your changing needs and preferences.
By Katelyn Doyle, La Crosse estate planning attorney. For questions about estate planning, call her at 608-784-5678.