By: Barry E. Haimo, Esq.
April 26, 2018
Are You a Millennial without an Estate Plan? Here’s Why You Should Worry
If you end up in the hospital, who’s able to learn about your condition? If you die, what happens to your social media accounts? Digital photos? Cryptocurrency?
Many Millennials don’t know where to turn for answers to these types of questions. After all, they aren’t typical topics of conversation with your friends or co-workers.
But they can be answered by engaging in estate planning. This isn’t just something that older people need. Most people – even those in their 20s and 30s – can benefit.
Here are a few concerns estate planning can answer for millennials.
Who can visit me in the hospital and learn about my condition?
If you are unmarried and over 18, you may be surprised to learn that your parents and other loved ones do not have the legal right to obtain medical information about you. That can leave them in the dark and unable to help at a time when you need it the most.
That’s because of the Privacy Rule in the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA). A medical provider may disclose protected health information to a family member without your authorization if the provider believes it is in your best interest, but they are not required to, so they often come down on the side of patient privacy.
Beyond that issue, you may also have many loved ones in your life who are not technically family members but feel like they are. In fact, it may be one of those people who you’d like making decisions for you in the case of your incapacitation or incompetence. Unfortunately, they will have absolutely no right to do so without legal documents stating otherwise.
Think about who you would want to have access to you and what type of access you want them to have. Then you can work with an estate planning attorney to determine which documents can help make that happen. Examples include HIPAA authorization, medical power of attorney, and/or durable power of attorney.
What happens to your social media accounts?
Millennials have had a social media presence for most of their lives. Your Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, LinkedIn, and even Google Plus (yeah, remember that one?) are considered part of your estate. It’s a collection of photos and memories that make up your life.
But what happens to it when you die?
If you have specific wishes, you can detail them in your last will and testament. You can decide on the wording for a final post, ask that the accounts be deleted or downloaded, or you can request that they stay up for a desired length of time.
What happens to my digital assets?
Do you run a blog? Own domain names? Do you have a library of downloaded music and movies? Books? What about video games?
Growing up in a digital age means owning digital assets. Think about all the places you have files stored or uploaded. If you pass away, will anyone else know how to access all of that?
It’s good practice to keep a list of ways to access all your various accounts either on paper or in a password-protected document.
In your will, you can include instructions on how to handle those assets, and you should inform your estate planning attorney and your executor or trustee where you stored the login information.
What about my savings?
Previous generations tended to choose a single bank and stick with it, but millennials shop around. They may have multiple checking, savings, and investment accounts… with multiple banks. Some of these banks may not even have a physical location.
That can make it hard for your executor to access all your assets – or even know that they exist!
Make a physical copy of beneficiary information for your accounts, and store that login information along with other digital asset data. Update it when you open or close an account, and check it at least annually just to be sure it’s up-to-date.
How will my cryptocurrency be passed along?
Cryptocurrency, such as Bitcoin, is even more complicated to track down than money stored in traditional currencies. That’s because there is no record connecting transactions and accounts to real-world identities.
If part of the appeal of the currency is its privacy, then you should consider a revocable living trust, which will help maintain your privacy even after you pass. And like other digital assets, you want to record information on how to access your cryptocurrency accounts, store it in a secure location, and ensure your estate planning attorney and executor are aware.
But there are a few more things to consider with cryptocurrency estate planning.
Bottom line? An estate planning lawyer can help make sure that you and your assets – all of them – are taken care of in the event that something happens to you. To learn more about how we can help, reach out to our office today.
Barry E. Haimo, Esq.
Strategic Planning With Purpose®
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