Attorney Christian W. Bartholomew‘s Guest Commentary: “For millennials, now is a good time to start estate planning” was featured in the Times of Northwest Indiana on January 7th.

The New Year is a time for planning, and for millennials there couldn’t be a better time to start an estate plan. Believe it or not, millennials are all grown up. Many of the youngest members of the generation born between the early 80s and late 90s have already graduated college and found their first careers. Some have gotten married and started families. Older millennials are already professionally seasoned and thinking about retirement, mortgages and saving for their children’s futures. Youthful perception aside, however, all millennials are now at an age when it makes sense to put together an estate plan.

“But I’m 25 and spend all of my money on avocado toast and student loan payments,” you might ask, “why do I need an estate plan?” Because an estate plan does a lot more than just pass on your wealth after you die, that’s why. It helps plan for an unpredictable future.

For example, anyone, no matter what age, can be affected by an accident or medical condition that leaves them incapacitated and unable to make decisions. Most estate plans include a general power of attorney, which allows you to appoint someone you trust to handle personal and financial affairs in such a situation. Similarly, a health care power of attorney allows you to appoint someone to make medical decisions for you if you can’t make them yourself. Using these estate planning tools can help avoid time-consuming and expensive guardianship proceedings in court. In the event of an incapacitating terminal illness, do you want artificial nutrition and hydration to keep you alive? Many people have strong feelings about such end-of-life decisions. A living will, part of most modern estate plans, can ensure that that your wishes concerning these decisions are expressed and heeded.

Even if you don’t have many assets to pass on, a Last Will and Testament can be useful.

Got kids? Many millennials do, and chances are, they’re still young. You can use a will to name a guardian for your children in case of your unexpected death before they become adults. If you do have some assets to pass to the next generation but want to ensure that your kids don’t inherit too soon and squander their inheritance, then you can tailor your will to ensure inheritance at an appropriate age. Perhaps you’re in a committed relationship but not married. Without a will, your assets may pass to your family, not your partner. And if you wish to leave anything to a charity, church or other cause you’re passionate about, you’ll want a will. Additionally, a will also allows you to make plans for your digital assets—social media accounts, websites, and email accounts, all of which are just as much a part of a modern legacy as photo albums were in the past.

Estate planning is a useful tool for the young as much as the old. Modern living has changed the factors that each generation must consider, but not the need to plan for the future. For many millennials, now is a great time to start planning.

GUEST COMMENTARY: For millennials, now is a good time to start estate planning

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