Millennials are members of a generational group who were born roughly between 1980 and 2000. The media in Maryland and nationwide thrives on charting the habits and trends of millennials. They are portrayed as independent, adventuresome, generally progressive, tech-savvy and entrepreneurial. As such, they appear to have little interest in the tedious activities of estate planning and wealth-building, which they believe are for the rich and elderly. They also tend to shun death and disability, dreary topics that challenge their typical self-image of immortality.
Indeed, a survey published in USA Today found that 78 percent of Americans under the age of 36 do not have a will or trust. But that is changing. Now the largest portion of the adult population, millennials represent a powerful voice for consumerism and social consciousness. Importantly, the baby boomers are preparing to transfer a sobering $30 trillion to Gen Xers and millennials in the coming years. As millennials acclimate to having a secure life, they increasingly embrace the values of marriage and family.
Moreover, they are accepting death as a given, while viewing disability and serious illness as age-neutral twists of fate. With their high-tech upbringing, millennials are accustomed to working with organized digital platforms. Estate planning, after all, is simply a structured program to protect and grow assets, engage in wealth-building and utilize effective mechanisms for wealth transfer. Millennials find the planning process to be user-friendly and systematically efficient.
There are numerous other reasons why millennials are becoming attracted to estate planning. When they engage in planning, they can:
- Get organized about managing and growing assets;
- Make powers of attorney and health care directives to avoid expenses in the event of incapacity;
- Control the gifting of assets by percentages and to the desired persons;
- Appoint an executor who will manage the estate;
- Maximize the benefits of retirement accounts and other investments, while assuring updated beneficiary selections;
- Provide life insurance to support a family and/or to finance the retention of a family business or other enterprise;
- Control exactly how the executor disposes of family real estate, avoiding family discord in the process;
- Get the peace of mind of knowing that pets will be cared for lovingly during disability or after death. This usually involves a pet care trust and appointment of a caretaker, thus saving pets from going to public shelters;
- Designate how the testator’s digital and online accounts are to be handled, who controls them, and their disposition after death, thus avoiding costly disputes with online providers;
- Save and preserve digitally stored photographs that exist on a person’s phones and computers at death;
- Appoint a guardian for minor children should there be an unexpected tragedy;
- Set up a living trust to avoid the public probate process, and thereby also cut out long delays and unnecessary fees and expenses;
- Avoid discord between stepchildren and blood heirs;
- Take advantage of tax benefits, reduce taxes, and pay necessary bills;
- Control the disposition of personal property, valuable art, vehicles, heirlooms, and other valuable items;
- Develop an ongoing relationship with an experienced estate planning attorney who knows your needs and how to fulfill your stated goals.
The process thus allows for one’s control over the assets and legacy that transfers to the next generation. It is said that wealth is not really wealth if it is not capable of being transferred to future generations. Inefficient planning or failure to plan can defeat that outcome. Estate planning in Maryland and elsewhere is not just about money. When done correctly, it also creates a legacy, reflects a person’s values, and avoids family discord. Building wealth includes protecting it, growing it and legally positioning it to be transferred efficiently to a spouse, children, grandchildren or charitable cause. Estate planning offers an arsenal of tools, including wills, testamentary and/or revocable living trusts, advance directives, and powers of attorney, through which the process achieves your goals and gives you peace of mind.
Having an experienced estate planning attorney can ensure that your wishes are outlined appropriately under Maryland law. The Law Offices of Elsa W. Smith, LLC can assist by drafting estate planning documents that secure your assets, honor your wishes, and safeguard against the public Maryland probate process. Contact us today in our Annapolis Office at 410-995-7719, in Laurel at 301-358-4340 or visit our website at elsawsmithlaw.com to learn how we can protect you, your family and your business.