Estate Planning – It’s not just for old People
Below is a great article on estate planning for young people in Leawood. It’s easy to think that estate planning is simply for old people or at least those approaching middle age. We easily forget that a lot of the accidents in this world happen to younger persons and they need estate planning as well. What’s great is that they don’t need a lot – but they still need some.
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Young People Need Estate Planning Too
Over the last few months, I have been reading stories of tragic deaths of young people. Most recently the sad passing of Bobbi Kristina Brown (Whitney Houston’s daughter) and the 2 women with wonderful bright futures killed by a gunman at a movie theater in July, Jillian Johnson and Mayci Breaux. Tragedies like these make me think of how precious life is and to consider each day as a gift.
These tragedies also make people in the financial planning industry re-confirm long held beliefs about the need for an estate plan for someone young and single. An estate plan is simply giving you a voice as to what you want done in the event you are not around to speak. An estate plan gives direction to those who are left behind as to how to handle things in the way you would want them to be handled such as:
Do you want a say in how you are medically treated if you are unable to make a decision? I tell my younger nieces and nephews that their mantra is “doing life on my terms.” If that is their mantra, and they do not clearly state what they want done if they cannot make a medical decision, they are literally leaving their lives in the hands of other people. There were reported disagreements as to the medical care of Bobbi Christina Brown. if she had a healthcare directive, she could have stated her own decision and perhaps saved her loved ones a lot of grief and turmoil. If you want to prepare for such an event in your life, you can create a healthcare directive for free at My Directives.com.
Who handles your social media accounts when you are unable to or can’t? I had a dear friend that recently passed away from cancer. One nephew gained access to her Facebook account and started posting information about my friend that I knew she never would have wanted posted. As well intentioned as he was, his posts hurt her family as well as those of us who loved her. Have a list of your social media accounts, user id, passwords and domains and put in writing the person you want to handle your accounts if you passed away. This person should have some experience with computers and dealing with social media.
Who pays for your burial expenses? It is estimated that over 95 million adults in the US do not have life insurance. When you are gone, there are going to be costs associated with burial expenses, time away from work to handle your estate in court, better known as probate, as well as possible costs in removing items from your home. Many will say that if you have no one that is depending on your income then life insurance is not necessary. Consider the people left behind and ensure that there is enough money to at least cover your burial expenses.
What happens to your “Sweet 16” pictures or that trophy you won in junior high? In an ideal world your parents will come together to take care of your things. In reality, there are parents that are not together or are so hostile toward each other that they may fight over your things if you are gone. What may have no monetary value to you may have significant sentimental value to those who love you. Decide who will get the things you own and put it in writing. This is most often done through a will. Many companies offer free estate planning benefits to include will preparation, so start there. If your company does not offer estate planning services you can either pay to have a will done or create a will online using websites like Legalzoom.com, Nolo.com, or USLegal.com. A hybrid approach is to do your will online and then have the will evaluated by an attorney.
What happens to your savings and investments? You probably have at least a bank account and a retirement plan at your job. Make sure you have up-to-date beneficiaries on the latter. You can add beneficiaries to your bank account too by asking the bank for a POD (payable on death) form. A will can take a while for the court to process but with beneficiaries, your heirs just need to show up with a death certificate and some form of ID and they can get immediate access to your accounts.
A tragedy can happen to anyone at any time. Planning for such a moment is admittedly not very fun. But if you really want to live life on your terms, then take action today to make sure that you do that, all the way to the end.
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