The death of a celebrity will sometimes cause the media to focus enquiry on estate planning. We recently blogged about the circumstances surrounding Prince’s intestacy and the possible heirs of his estate. Anton Yelchin, a 27 year old actor best known for his role in the Star Trek movies, has passed away. His death has raised a number of interesting points.
First and foremost this case raises the importance of why it is a good idea to estate plan at a younger age.While there is no target age when a will should be written, estate planning is a consideration that Millennials should take into account. Yelchin was a successful young actor who accumulated a large amount of wealth in his career. His family and friends would likely have benefitted from the crafting of an estate plan as it would give them some direction pertaining to his wishes for his money and his legacy as an actor. It would have also saved his parents the uncertainty of trying to take control of his estate while coping with his death.
As Yelchin passed away without a will, the court will ultimately decide who is appointed to distribute his assets. Yelchin’s parents are currently applying to the court in order to oversee the distribution of Yelchin’s estate. If this estate were to be in Ontario Yelchin’s parents almost certainly would be appointed as estate trustees by applying for a Certificate of Appointment of Estate Trustee Without a Will. As per the Succession Law Reform Act in Ontario, if an individual dies with no surviving spouse or children (as is the case here), his or her parents would inherit his estate.
It is important to consider the possibility of crafting a will at a younger age in order to ensure one’s wishes are fulfilled, and as a preventative measure against costly and unnecessary litigation.
Thank you for reading.
Isn’t estate planning just for old, married, and rich people? This is a question that we face all of the time. The simple answer is – no.
Proper estate planning helps not only the old, but the young as well.
A recent US survey amongst 23 to 35 and 35 to 44 year olds indicates that, respectively, 80% and 67% of these groups do not have a Will. Closer to home, the percentages are quite similar. A Canadian survey found that 77.2% of 25 to 34 year olds and 67.9% of 35 to 44 year olds do not have a Will. A prior Hull & Hull blog highlights those Canadians that had a Will that needed updating.
Given that the leading cause of death amongst millennials is accidental and unintentional injuries, estate planning should not wait.
A recent article on Forbes highlights estate planning tips that every millennial should consider regardless of whether they are married, have dependants, or are still paying off student loans. Of course, professional advice should always be sought.
- Add beneficiaries to your accounts – designating beneficiaries on bank accounts and investments allows for the transfer of the asset to your intended recipient upon your passing. Including the recipient as a beneficiary, as opposed to a ‘joint owner’, ensures that they do not have access to the account (and funds), while alive leading to concerns of misappropriation. The Forbes author additionally suggests that these designations should be checked at least once a year in the event they need to be updated.
- Get a basic Will – nothing overly detailed or expensive is required. Carefully thinking through the choice of estate trustee(s) and the division of assets will not only ensure your wishes are followed, but will avoid the headache of proceeding with the administration of an intestate estate. The Forbes author additionally suggests having a secured list of your digital assets, along with the username and password.
- Consider life insurance to cover student loans – certain loans are not discharged upon death. Insurance helps alleviate the concern that a co-signatory, usually a parent, is not left with the burden of paying off the remainder of the loan.