So far, this year has proven to be the year of forced upgrades: new laptop after my old one putted out; new smartphone when my iPhone suffered water damage; and a shiny set of wheels when I learned that my 15-year-old clunker was in need of costly repairs. As I'm adding fresh "inventory" to my life, I've been thinking about how I want to handle my own assets and estate planning (which needs to happen sooner than later).
Sure, it's common practice to designate beneficiaries, assign a power of attorney, and ensure our cash stash, property, life insurance policy, and beloved classic guitar collection is passed on to our loved ones. But in this new age, there are a handful of new concerns that previous generations didn't have to consider.
Here are some modern-day concerns that we millennials have when it comes to estate planning:
What is going to happen to your photos on Instagram? And how will your Facebook and Twitter accounts be handled? And who will access your accounts to Reddit, Amazon, and your favorite online retailers?
In our digital era, these are increasingly common concerns. When it comes to digital assets like login info for online retailers, gaming accounts, and social media profiles, you'll want to make sure they're taken care of properly, and your personal info doesn't get in the wrong hands.
Note: Many states have adopted the Revised Uniform Fiduciary Access to Digital Assets Act (RUFADAA). In a nutshell, this law allows fiduciaries—think attorneys and executors—to manage the digital assets if you should pass or become incapacitated. While the RUFADAA grants fiduciaries certain rights, it also protects the privacy for the owner (that's you) of digital assets, and legal protections for the businesses who create, store, and provide digital assets.
First, you'll want to create a digital inventory. I know, it's going to be a pain in the butt, but once you do it, you'll feel better. Next, create an online vault to store precious, sensitive info like passwords and important documents. A few options out there include Everplans, Online Vault, and KeepVault. Finally, you'll want to create a digital estate plan, which includes info such as who will have access to what info, and how your assets will be handled.
If you're like me, you have money stashed away in different money management apps and digital banks—Digit, Qapital, Acorns, Stash, to name a few. I fear the day will come when the tiny fortune of money I've accrued through apps will be forgotten, and all my micro investing efforts will be for naught. While it's lovely to have money stored in these online accounts (hello, surprise fund!) the problem is that 1. Nobody knows I have these accounts; and 2. How the heck to access them.
What's more, let's face it, we millennials like to switch banks more than previous generations. To boot, banks seem to merge more than ever. In turn, it's a beast of a task to keep track of where all your online bank accounts and apps are.
Like your social media accounts, you'll want to store login info in an online vault. And financial apps and all online banking information should fall under your digital estate plan.
Care of Your Pets
For many of us, our pets are an important part of our family. If you have a furbaby, you might be concerned with its well-being after you pass.
It's true, you can add your dog, cat, or guinea pig as a beneficiary. You'll just need to include this as a provision in your estate plan. Otherwise, your pet might be treated as property. You'll also need to assign a caretaker who will be responsible for feeding your pet, taking it to the vet, and taking it on walks.
Another option is to create a pet trust. How this works is you would designate a trustee and caregiver for the pet. The trustee will handle the money, while the caregiver will tend to the pet. You can leave detailed instructions, such as your pet's diet, meds, and exercise requirements.
When it comes to life insurance, you can assign a portion of your life insurance policy for the care of your pets, while the rest to your human beneficiaries. That's right, you'll just treat your feline or pooch as a beneficiary.
With matters of estate planning, we millennials have an extra set of questions to answer. But like my mom said, "Nothing lasts forever," for better or for worse. With that in mind, you'll be able to create a will and estate plan that addresses all your modern age concerns.