Advance warning: this post is written by a non-millennial. (I’m stuck in Gen Y, or whichever letter of the alphabet signifies those of us too young to be in our golden years but too old to be cool.) But for all the millennials out there, bear with me for a few minutes, please. This post is not just about you but for you as well.
Let’s put aside the jokes about man buns, artisanal coffee, and kale for a moment. While many of you are struggling with student loan debt, a college degree with little relevance in the job market, and concerns about the deteriorating state of our planet, what you may not have noticed is that you are about to become the richest generation in American history.
How can this be, you ask, as you juggle three part-time jobs with no benefits and share an apartment with 4 others? Trust me, it’s going to happen.
Baby Boomers (your parents and the same people you often blame – rightly so – for the state of the world today) will leave to their children a staggering amount of wealth. Boomers were the beneficiaries of an era that saw job stability, pensions (what’s that??), generous employer healthcare at little or no cost, and a meteoric rise in real estate values. All of this will pass onto their children, the Millennials.
As the recipient of this wealth transfer, Millennials needs to prepare their own estate plans to handle this influx of assets. You may not feel like you need an estate plan now, what with your student debt and Survivor-esque living situation. But you need to be prepared to handle the assets your parents are very likely to leave to you. The best way to do that is to have your own estate plan and establish clear communications with your parents. Perhaps you are your parents’ successor trustee as well as their beneficiary. This means understanding how a living trust works and what responsibilities come with being a successor trustee (spoiler alert – it’s not easy).
Also, what if you go to a music festival and never return (Fyre Festival, anyone?)? What will happen to your online accounts, your collection of Uggs, and your brand new laptop? You need an estate plan to handle this so that your family and friends know your wishes.
So, I encourage all of you to learn more about estate planning, living trusts, probate (which is what happens if your Baby Boomer parents don’t have an estate plan), and your parents’ wishes and plans. (Hint: Don’t try and have this conversation over the holidays. It’s already a highly emotional time when you sit down to dinner and announce you’ve become vegan while Dad carves the turkey.) Next, set up your own estate plan.
No, it’s not too early and yes, you can handle it. Just tie up that man bun, order your non-fat, half-caf, oat milk latte and your kale salad and set up a meeting with an estate planning attorney that gets you and your existential dread. We’re here for you.