Langley-based CBM Lawyers explains why it's important for young adults to begin end-of-life planning
No one likes to think about death, or more specifically, one's own mortality. A will is not top of mind for most, particularly for late Gen Zs and millennials in good health. Until recently.
According to a 2021 survey by Caring.com, the number of people between the ages of 18 and 34 with a will or other estate plan has increased by 63 percent since 2020. The poll also revealed this demographic was highly motivated by COVID-19, so much so that they are now more likely than those aged 35 to 54 to have an estate-planning document.
Pexels/Karolina GrabowskaThis is no surprise to Lesley Russell, associate with CBM Lawyers and solicitor for their wills and estates department. "COVID was a wake-up call for everyone," says Russell. "In my experience, I saw a lot of 60-plus clients in 2020, but also more millennials than in previous years."
If you're at the beginning of your adult life and contemplating whether it's too soon to plan end-of-life decisions, consulting with an experienced wills and estates lawyer can help mitigate any complexities when making your first will and estate plan. "We look at the big picture to make sure that people aren't having a misconceived idea of what's going to happen," Russell says. She cautions against DIY online wills, which can pose challenges that lead to mistakes.
Here are three benefits to planning now...
1. Control your assets
It's a common misconception to equate wills and estate planning with wealth or property ownership; however, it's not necessary to have amassed a small fortune or be a homeowner to create a simple will for your legacy.
A will enables you to appoint someone—an executor—to dispose of your assets to your beneficiaries according to your wishes. "If you're a young adult, even if you don't have a lot of assets yet, by having a will you're doing a favour to the people left behind grieving you," says Russell. "Many don't realize that while a will dictates who gets what from your estate, the document gives legal authority to your executor to deal with everything from your remains to your personal possessions, including pets and your digital accounts; without a will, nobody is in charge."
In Canada, if you die without a will, the provincial government of your home province determines how to distribute your assets. Russell adds, "It's really important if you live here and your assets are mainly in B.C. that you've got a B.C. will."
2. Life happens
Various life events can influence millennials to consider a will, Russell admits, listing: marriage, kids, divorce and even funerals, among the most common. These milestones also serve as the best time to review and update your will. "Children are one of the biggest reasons I see people about wills," she says. "As soon as kids turn two, parents are concerned about the guardianship clause, just in case something happens to either of them." If you're married or common law, and your plan includes leaving money for your parents, for example, be mindful if you have joint assets, like bank accounts or your house. Russell advises, "Look at that carefully, ask questions, for instance, 'Do we need to change things like ownership?' otherwise it's all going to go to your spouse."
3. Planning personal documents
In addition to your will, documents important to prepare include: the enduring power of attorney, which gives one or more persons the authority to deal with your financial and legal matters, and the representation agreement, which appoints a person—or multiple people—to make your health care decisions if you're unable. "A rep agreement includes other wishes too," explains Russell, "Like organ donation and donating your body to science on your behalf."
To consult an expert and seek further information, visit CBM Lawyers online.
CREATED BY BCLIVING, IN PARTNERSHIP WITH CBM LAWYERS