Nobody likes to think about estate planning, especially when you're in your 20s and 30s. Life is busy and the odds are in your favor that you won't really need an estate plan for decades to come. We get it. But there's more to estate planning than a stern discussion of wills and trusts in a mahogany furniture-filled office where the walls are lined in law books.
True, estate plans are largely used to transfer wealth from one generation to another, but there are other aspects of an estate plan that apply to the lives of people who aren't expecting a letter from the AARP for a long time. Things like healthcare powers of attorney, plans for digital assets, naming guardians for minor children, pet trusts or pet care directives, and charitable donations or gifts.
We all live online. You may have already thought about what you want to happen to your social media accounts after you're gone. Maybe you want your family and friends to be able to access the digital you indefinitely, or maybe you don't want those pictures from that Mardi Gras trip you took during college to just be out there, hackable, forever. This is something you can specify in an estate plan.
Will your survivors know what to do with your digital currency if you aren't around to explain it? In your will or trust, you can identify these assets and accounts and determine how you would like them managed in the event of your incapacity or death.
The COVID-19 pandemic has made all of us think about healthcare far more than we ever did before. All the temperature checks and self-monitoring for symptoms have made everyone, no matter their age, more aware of the value of health and how easily it can be lost. A healthcare power of attorney (a.k.a. an advance directive) and a HIPAA privacy release, are important for anyone, of any age, to ensure that there is someone who is authorized to speak on your behalf if you are not able to speak for yourself.
Having young children can mean that you've put off buying nice things until the kids are older and you don't even have enough extra money to worry about, anyway. Even if that's true, it's important that you write a will so that you can choose guardians for your children if something should happen to both parents. Think of all the people who could possibly end up with your kids. Now think of the worst option. Write a will so that you know that guy will never be the one raising your children.
Caring for Pets
Even if you don't have children, estate planning can mean that your pets have somewhere to go should they outlive you. Having a specific directive in your will, and a trust (if possible), for the care of your pet will ensure that the dog who sleeps in your bed every night will go to someone who will love and care for him, and not to a shelter.
You try to live your life with purpose and meaning. There are causes that you support because you're passionate about the work they do. Having a will means that you can leave your estate to a charity that will use your life's work to advance something important to you. In the same way, if you'd like to leave what you have to help fund a loved one's education, or something else that's meaningful to you, you can do that with an estate plan.
To learn more about estate planning in California, give us a call. Contact an estate attorney at Davidson Estate Law at (510) 527-6774 or fill out our confidential contact form. Our main office is located in Oakland, but we also have offices in Berkeley, San Francisco, Walnut Creek, San Jose and San Mateo to better serve you.