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Estate planning may sound like something wealthy people do to make sure their businesses, mansions, and money go to the people they wish after they die. In fact, it goes far beyond making a will, and it’s something every adult, at every stage of life, ought to do, whether or not they have financially significant assets. Estate planning, especially establishing advance directives and establishing power of attorney is vital to take care of now.

Advance Directives

An advance directive is a legal document that allows you to make choices about your health care before that care is needed. For example, you can set out your instructions for your care circumstances like an accident that leaves you unconscious; whether or not you want to be sustained on life support, and in what circumstances; your desires in case you become terminally ill or mentally ill. You can also establish your wishes for what is to be done with your body in case of your death. Do you want to be an organ donor? Would you want your body donated to a medical school or for research? Most commonly, advance directives for health care are handled through a living will or a health care proxy, which is a specific type of power of attorney, granted for making health care decisions.

Power of Attorney

In addition to health care decisions, you can designate someone to make financial or business decisions on your behalf, if you are not capable. That person you grant power of attorney is called an attorney-in-fact. By planning ahead, you have the opportunity to make considered choices. You can designate different attorneys-in-fact for health care and financial decisions, or choose one person to handle both.

Florida enacted new legislation in 2011 that made changes to the ways power of attorney documents are established and implemented. One important change is that power of attorney documents must now include a much more comprehensive list of authorities granted to the attorney-in-fact. Where the law once assumed that authorities not specifically excluded in a power of attorney document were included, it is now assumed that authorities not specifically included are excluded.

Providing For Children 

If you have minor children, and especially if you’re a single parent, you need to include provisions for those children in your will. You need to make sure you’ve named the people you want to become their legal guardian after your passing, and that you’ve done so in a legally binding way. Likewise, you’ll need to ensure that any life insurance benefits are used as you wish for the support of your children. If you don’t already have life insurance, getting covered will be an important part of planning for the future care of your children.

Estate Planning Is For Everyone

 Estate planning should cover all aspects of your current life, whatever that looks like. In addition to leaving instructions for your own care and finances, it covers issues like care of your pets if something happens to you, and access to your home and distribution of your personal property. That property may not have high monetary value, but there are likely items that hold high sentimental value, and you should be able to decide who should have them by designating beneficiaries and a trusted executor to carry your wishes out. The trust and estate planning attorneys at Overstreet, Miles, Cumbie, Finkenbinder & Bondy can guide you through the process of making an estate plan that covers the important matters in your life today, and into the future. Call or contact us online for a consultation and to learn more about estate planning for your specific stage of life.

The Millennial Generation is at the beginning of its adult life, and many Millennials are far more concerned about starting careers, buying homes, paying off college, and starting families than they are about planning their estates. Many believe that it’s too soon to start thinking about estate planning because they are young and healthy. At a bare minimum, even young adults should have a legally binding Power of Attorney, Health Care Surrogate Designation and a Last Will and Testament in place, and should have those documents reviewed periodically, because circumstances change over the course of a lifetime.

Plan Against The Unexpected

More than either their parents’ or grandparents’ generations, Millennials tend to prefer active and adventurous travel, often to more exotic locations. Before you head off to Bali for your trip of a lifetime, consider leaving travel insurance documentation in the hands of the person you want making emergency decisions for you, along with your power of attorney, health care surrogate designation, and a simple will. You never know when that diving trip may take a turn for the worse, and it’s better to have an unneeded plan than to have a problem and no plan in place.

Think About Your Pets

Financial assets aren’t the only things you need to plan ahead for, in case something happens to you. Do you have arrangements made for someone to take care of your pets if you’re incapacitated, or if you die unexpectedly? Does that caretaker have access to your home in case of an emergency? Do they know where to find your pet’s supplies and belongings, and where to reach your vet? Planning for the temporary or permanent care of your pets could make the difference between them living their lives out in a loving home and having them end up in a high-kill shelter if something were to happen to you.

What Happens To Your Digital Life?

Millennials have far greater digital presences than any previous generation. Because the development of legal standards regarding digital presences lag far behind the growth of those presences, it’s anything but clear what should be done with people’s social media accounts and websites when they die. It’s another perfect example of why Millennials need wills at an earlier age than their parents and grandparents ever did. Include an inventory of your accounts and sites in your estate plan, designate a caretaker, and make your wishes known. Certain media, like Facebook, allow you to appoint someone to take your account over in case of emergency, but others would require you telling your designee how to log in and what you want them to do with each account.

Items Of Sentimental Value

You may not be wealthy, but you probably have items that are rich in sentimental value that you’d like to go to people who will appreciate them, rather than a charity shop after you’re gone. You also don’t want friends and family squabbling over these things. It may seem silly to make an inventory of such things and list beneficiaries for them in a will, but you should. You might even consider working on a personal description of each item over time, so the eventual recipient will read in your own words why you consider the item a treasure and why you wanted them, in particular, to have it.

Millennials Need Wills & Estate Plans 

For people who are just starting out and don’t have major assets and complicated family ties, estate planning with an experienced attorney can be a surprisingly affordable step. The attorneys at Overstreet, Miles, Cumbie, Finkenbinder & Bondy can help you make your first will and estate plan, and review it for you as your life, finances, and family change in the future. Call or contact us online for a consultation. “Adulting” can be a challenge, but we can help you establish a solid estate plan for a firm foundation.