What should millennials worry about when estate planning?


Jackie Lam

Jackie Lam

Blog author Jackie Lam

Jackie Lam is a money writer and educator. She helps artists and freelancers get creative with their money at Hey Freelancer.

Published January 31, 2018 | 3 min read

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Updated August 11, 2020. Ah, estate planning. I'm creating my will this year and I've had questions that go beyond the nuts and bolts of estate planning. For instance, how will the cash set aside in investment and savings apps be accounted for? And what will happen to my Instagram account?

Since it’s not exactly material for casual conversation with pals, I asked a handful of financial planners what concerns millennials might have with creating a will or living trust.

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Your social media accounts

How would you like your Facebook, Instagram and Twitter accounts to be handled after you die? These accounts are considered a part of your estate, said Samuel Rad, a certified financial planner at Affluencer Financial.

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You don’t have to be an Instagram influencer to include such assets in your will. If you want your social media accounts and files to be dealt with in a specific way, you must list them in your trust. Unfortunately, many people never do this. You’ll also want to get specific as to how you want your accounts to be handled. You may want decide whether you want an official “final post,” delete the account entirely or keep it up for a certain amount of time.

Your digital assets

If you’re worried about what will happen to your trove of selfies, vacation pics and other digital files, you’ll want to make a list of your digital assets and how to access them, said Michael Dinich, financial adviser at Your Money Geek.

This include computers, hard drives, flash drives, smartphones, tablets, files stored on the cloud and accounts with online retailers. Not to mention YouTube, video gaming accounts, domain names and forums and blogs you manage.

It’s bound to be an exhaustive list, but it’s better to know your accounts will be handled by someone you trust. Keep a list (either a paper copy or password-protected document) of how to access these accounts, along with login credentials and the email address on file your beneficiaries get locked out.

“Nominate someone in the estate planning documents to handle these assets and instruct them on your wishes on how these assets should be managed,” said Dinich. “However, because a will must be filed at the courthouse upon death and becomes part of public record, don’t include login information in the will.”

So many banks — & apps

Millennials like to switch banks more than previous generations. Plus, many banks and financial technology companies merge often and constantly upgrade their technology. Because of that, beneficiary data might get lost. Keep a paper copy of all beneficiary data, or store a digital copy of important documents on a password-protected thumb drive, said Dinich.

“There have been several notable examples of firms merging and as a result beneficiary data is inadvertently lost,” said Dinich. “With retirement accounts in particular, a lost beneficiary form could expose the account to unintended taxes and probate.”

Your (impending) cryptocurrency wealth

You don’t want to be like those folks who passed away with crypto wallets containing millions of dollars without an estate plan (true story). Because the owner never left directions and login info, the money basically goes nowhere.

“This is very tricky because it can also be used to harm you,” said Rad. “A hacker can basically log into your account and take all of your money.”

If you’ve jumped on the cryptocurrency wagon, Rad suggests placing your password in a bank safe box, then place a beneficiary listing on the safe box using a transfer of death form at the bank.

“This way the only time someone can find your password is when you pass, and the bank allows the person to look into your safe box,” said Rad.

Your estate consists of everything you own, tangible and intangible, said Rad. Whether it’s your social media, photos or online accounts, you’ll want to come up with a plan on how you want them handled, and include pertinent details in your estate plan. We can help you make a plan (and an online will!) with our app — sign up here.

Image: yacobchuk