78% of millennials don’t have a Last Will; even less have a Power of Attorney

“People don’t want to talk about death,” says Byrke Sestok, a certified financial planner with Rightirement Wealth Partners in White Plains, N.Y. But if you die without a will, he says, the consequences for your loved ones can be disastrous.

Kiplinger’s Magazine highlighted the whole in future planning in an article entitled: Why everyone needs an Estate Plan.

The article tracks my counsel. There are three primary documents which everyone should have: a Last Will and Testament, a Durable Power of Attorney, and a Living Will and Advance Directive.

A Last Will:

A will spells out how you want your assets distributed after your death, and it names an executor to handle these transfers. Otherwise, you will die intestate, meaning your state decides how to distribute your property and funds, generally starting with your parents if you’re childless (unless an account, such as your bank account, designates a beneficiary or is held jointly). Even if you want to leave everything to your parents, a will streamlines the process, says Jeana Salman, a CFP in Atlanta.

A Durable Power of Attorney:

Two other documents may be even more important than a will for single, healthy millennials. The first is a durable power of attorney, which names the person who can manage financial matters on your behalf if you are unable to (say, because you’ve become incapacitated or you’re simply unavailable because you’re traveling abroad).

A Living Will and Advanced Directive:

The second is an advance medical directive, which defines your end-of-life wishes concerning life support, comfort measures and more. You’ll also name a person to carry out those decisions on your behalf, either within the medical directive or in a separate document.

If you don’t specify your wishes or designate a health care agent and you fall into a persistent vegetative state, you will likely be kept alive artificially by default, says Steven Schindler, a partner at Perkins Coie LLP in Seattle.

However an estate plan is not just documents. An estate plan also includes your beneficiary designations on your life insurance policies, bank accounts, and retirement plans. It also includes your deeds and how they are titled. And today world,

Another aspect of estate planning that millennials need to worry about is maybe the scariest one of all: What happens to your digital assets—personal photos, gossipy messages and embarrassing e-mails—when you die? Facebook defaults to memorializing your account (you can appoint a “legacy contact” or choose to have it deleted instead). Google lets you choose up to 10 trusted contacts who may download data from your Gmail, photos and more if you become inactive for a specified amount of time. Most states have enacted or introduced laws that govern how an executor can access digital assets, but a lawyer can help you tailor a plan to legally authorize someone to handle them.

Alabama recently passed a new law for this.