Creating a will isn’t something that many young adults think about. You are young and healthy. Why would you need to prepare for death? While it may not seem to make a lot of sense right now, having a will can help you avoid a lot of problems later on. Things can change in an instant, and you may not always have your current good luck. Here are a few reasons creating a will now may be in your best interest.
Social Media Presence
As is typical with many young adults, and even older ones, you have likely amassed a social media presence. To establish these accounts, you created user identification names and passwords. Photographs, videos, other images and messages often form the substance of your Facebook, Twitter, Linkedin or your other social media platforms.
In addition, your digital “estate” may include PayPal, eBay, online music and video sites; and other online places where you purchase items and store photos and other content in the cloud.
Yes, you need a will that addresses the handling of your digital and online affairs. Much of the value in a digital will come from how you instruct your executor or executrix in handling these accounts. Depending on your wishes, your digital will can authorize the executor or executrix to close accounts, cancel credit or debit cards tied to it, and disable passwords and user ids.
Your estate, or the lawyer hired by your executor or executrix, needs access to these accounts to notify the administrators of your death, learn whether you have outstanding debts, get refunds or cancel transactions. Without a probated will, the administrators of these online sites may not discuss anything with your estate, much less cancel the accounts.
You will probably not list all of the accounts, user identifications or passwords individually. Over time, you will (hopefully) change passwords to stay ahead of online hackers and scammers. New social media accounts or online sites may become part of your digital life. Putting specific account information in the will hamstrings your estate since only those listed will be available. Instead, a lawyer can insert in the will a provision that permits your executor or executrix to deal with your social media accounts.
To allow your estate to effectively handle your social and online accounts, prepare a list of those accounts with names, user identification names or numbers and passwords. Keep this list updated when you change information. Your will can make reference to a specifically-titled or dated paper with this information. Let the person you name as executor or executrix know where to find the list. Also, take note of the site’s policies regarding automatic cancellation of accounts with no activity or allowing conversion of the accounts to a “memorial” or similar status.
You don’t associate planning for your death with such approaching milestones as college graduation or become a parent. Understandably, you might wonder if you even need a will. As you’ll read below, the answer is yes.
Deeming it too early for you to have a will may invite upon your survivors complicated issues involving property, care, and your social media life. This is because, without a will, your estate is handled under a set of default rules known as the intestacy laws.
Death Can Happen, Even in Good Health
Youth and young adulthood carries an assumption that you’re free of declining health. Even if true, good health does not account for other hazards that might lurk in your young life.
Fatal accidents are one such risk. According to the National Safety Council, an estimated 40,100 people died in motor vehicle crashes in 2017. The Centers for Disease Control reports that deaths from unintentional injury for those ages 25 to 34 numbered 23,984 in 2016. This ranked first among the ten causes of death in this demographic.
Your youth may keep you from having an annual physical checkup. Such a visit might reveal a lurking serious illness that could bring about death or a condition that in later years may impair your mental capacity to make a will.
Who Will Look After the Children?
Having minor children survive you could complicate property ownership, especially if you don’t have a will. Depending on your state, your surviving children could inherit all of your property or share with the surviving spouse under the intestacy laws.
If your children have yet to reach age 18, they will need an adult to look after the property. This includes paying any property taxes, performing repairs and upkeep and, if necessary, selling it to create a fund to support and provide education for the children. In your will, you can name a family member or other trusted friend to administer the child’s portion of the inheritance. Without a will, the court appoints a guardian for the child’s property, or estate.
The court will also appoint a guardian, or person to act as a parent, if you die and the other natural parent dies or has lost his or her parental rights. You can nominate, or recommend, in your will a person to serve as guardian for the children should you die and no natural parent is left. That nominee can be a grandparent, sibling, aunt, uncle or other trusted person. Although not binding, the court may give considerable weight to the wishes expressed in your will.
Willing Your Digital Legacy
Ultimately, your youth and good health are not reasons to delay estate planning and getting a will. In fact, these circumstances afford an optimal time to do so. Having a last will and testament provides for the care of your children, digital affairs and other aspects of your life should you unexpectedly pass.
Do you have other questions or concerns about being an adult? Don’t worry! Check out other articles that help you navigate the transition from college to the real world!