Adapting to Change | Preparing Clients for the Future
Covid-19 was a time that caused many changes. We saw many people pass away unexpectedly, people that thought they had time to plan. We saw many individuals pivot due to lack of employment and become creative because of being in the house. I heard a lot of people talk about generational wealth. Many became millionaires and many decided that they no longer wanted to work for a company or even in the United States.
2021 was also the Year of Quits, with over 38 million workers quitting their jobs. Contrary to previous generations and a more traditional approach: go to college, get married, get a job, have children, work the job for 40 years, retire. Millennials are more apt to work for themselves and create their own opportunities. They lead a fast-paced lifestyle, use lots of tech tools to accomplish tasks and work remotely in many instances.
Millennials also have digital assets which were not common with baby boomers. Social media accounts like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube, are not used for social purposes only. Many of these accounts are monetized and have many subscribers. They have been used to create businesses which are sole providers for some households.
This creates different challenges when it comes to estate planning. Previously, estate planning was not considered until later in life, with a different lifestyle and with Covid, it’s important to begin thinking about these things sooner.
Below is a list of things that millennials can do to be prepared for an emergency and ultimately help with their estate plan.
1. List of passwords
We now have passwords for every application that we use, to open our phone, check our bank balance, send an email, open our computers. It is important that we have a list of all our passwords saved so that someone can access them if necessary.
There are also applications that can be used to store passwords with a master password for the “vault”. This password should be stored in a location so that someone is able to access your vital information.
2. Guardianship paperwork for individuals with children
Approximately 16% of children are living in “blended families.” Blended families represent households where there is a stepparent of half-sibling. It’s important to outline who will be the caregivers for children in the event the biological parent passes away.
In a common household where there is both the biological mother and father, usually, it is the surviving parent, that would become the guardian of the children. In a blended family, that may not be the case. Or, that there may be instances where the other parent is not the recommended caregiver for the children. This should be outlined in guardianship paperwork so that the desires of the custodial parent are carried out. There is also the unfortunate situation where both parents pass away at the same time and there is no guardian designated for the children.
3. Know your financial inventory
It’s important to start thinking about estate planning earlier than later. A great way to do this is to create a page with information outlining accounts, insurance policies with beneficiaries and contact information, retirement, and pension information. I have heard this called a “life on a page” or “financial overview”. You want to have a document that lists, at a minimum, the following:
a. Bank accounts with account numbers
b. Credit card account numbers
c. Mortgage company(s)
d. Safe deposit information
e. Health Insurance information
f. Life insurance policy company names and account numbers
g. Beneficiary information
h. Retirement plan policy information
i. Brokerage account
j. Car insurance
k. Student loan
The goal is to have something that an individual can pick up in the event of an emergency and make sure that all your financial and life needs are covered.
You also want to review this document periodically to ensure the information is current. Names, addresses and phone numbers change so you want to verify that information and keep it up to date.
4. Legally document your desires
Prepare legal documents ahead of time. We don’t like to think about not being able to speak on our behalf, but we should have documented what our wishes are if that should ever happen. A medical care directive will outline your wishes for medical care. You can also set up a medical power of attorney. You may also want to consider a Medical Advanced Directive which would outline your desires for end-of-life care. A power of attorney is required to handle your financial matters and a durable power of attorney will cover if you are medically unable to make decisions.
Being prepared will allow you to be taken care of as you desire and eliminate others having to do what they think you would have wanted.
5. Prepare trusts and wills sooner
In 2020 and 2021, a common theme on social media was creating generational wealth. Although this may have been common for baby boomers and Gen X’ers, 2020 and 2021 created many millionaires that were in their twenties and thirties. Many of these individuals were first generation business owners, first generation millionaires, first generation homeowners.
A trust will eliminate probate and allow you to designate how the assets are distributed. In the case of generational wealth, you can determine what assets will go to your children, and how and when those assets will be distributed.
A will states your final wishes. A will allows you to say in advance what you want to happen when you die.
Whether you need to create a will, a trust, or both will depend on many factors and should be discussed with an attorney.
An estate or trust attorney can assist you with setting up the necessary documents to ensure that your desires are carried out. You may not think you need to go this route, but the conversation could save many headaches for your loved ones. The ultimate goal is to leave everything in a way that your wishes are followed through and that everyone can have peace.
You’ve worked hard to generate the wealth and leave it for the next generation, go the next step to make sure that it happens according to your wishes.
Yes, the goal is to live to be 100 years old. We want to be prepared in case something happens before then.
By: MARJORIE L. McPIKE | CPA
Owner of Marjorie L. McPike CPA – you can reach her at https://marjorielmcpikecpa.com