Millennials: You Aren’t Too Young to Estate Plan!

I’m a millennial, there I said it. I like avocados and I’ve used the expression “YOLO” in a non-ironic way (it was a long time ago!).

Stereotypes aside, millennials have achieved a lot, including changing the face of business with the advent of the modern day “start-up.” We are dreamers and planners.

When you ask a millennial to sit down and plan their future, you will get a long list of career goals and aspirations. They plan to start a business, buy a car, start a family, buy real estate, make investments, become millionaires.

Surprisingly, my fellow ambitious millennials often leave estate planning off this extensive list. Do we just not like thinking about our potential demise, or the fact that we unfortunately won’t live forever? Whatever the reason, we are not “estate” planners.

So, what does happen if you say “YOLO” and die without a Will?

Well, the first $200,000 of your estate goes to your spouse. It’s worth mentioning that the spouse also has the option to instead make a claim for half the net family property – pending legal advice of course. 

I know we live in 2021 but “spouse” does not include common law partners in this case. As more and more millennials are opting not to marry, and remain in common-law relationships, this archaic law could see your common-law partner get shafted completely if you die without a Will. While a common-law partner does not have an automatic right, like a spouse, to a share of the estate, they could make a claim to the Court. But this is of course both expensive and time consuming.

If there is no legal spouse, then your children inherit your estate. If any of your children have died, then their children inherit their share. If you die without a spouse, child or grandchildren, then your parents inherit your estate.

What happens if you die without a Will, have more than $200,000, and a spouse? Well, anything above the initial $200,000 is shared between your spouse, children and grandchildren.

Who gets cut out of your estate if you die without a will: anyone who isn’t your blood relative or your legally adopted child!  Yes, your common-law partner is not going to be happy about that one when they figure it out.

So, pick your poison: a trip to City Hall or a virtual visit to your lawyer for a Will?  

Robin K. Mann, J.D., Associate Lawyer