man in his 30s with father in his 60s

Estate Planning Strategies at  35 vs. 65

By Joshua Berkley

Estate planning strategies may be approached differently depending on whether you are a millennial or a baby boomer.

A millennial is considered to be anyone born between the years of 1981 and 1996 (ages 27-42), whereas a baby boomer refers to a member of the generation born between the end of World War II (1946) and the mid-1960s. Baby boomers (ages 58-77) are a large population group and have had careers during a time of U.S. prosperity. Estate planning is important for both groups of individuals. While the strategies are mainly similar, there are some differences in the strategies of the two groups as well.

Differences in Wills

A will is a fundamental estate planning document that outlines how a person’s assets will be distributed after their passing. Millennials and baby boomers should consider creating a will to ensure their wishes are followed and to avoid potential conflicts among family members.

There will be different considerations for millennials and baby boomers based on their age and stage of life they are in. For example, millennials are younger and may be in the early stages of their career or starting families. Many millennials are still building their wealth and assets, so their estate planning might involve basic provisions for their dependents and plans for the future accumulation of assets. Millennials might also want to provide for their parents or their siblings in their estate plan. Their estate planning might also involve addressing student loan debts.

On the other hand, baby boomers are typically older, nearing retirement or already retired. They are more likely to have accumulated assets, such as homes, investments, and retirement accounts. Their focus may be on preserving their wealth for their own retirement years and passing it on to their adult children or grandchildren, or towards charitable causes. Their estate planning might also need to address complex family dynamics, such as distributing assets fairly among children or step-children from different marriages.

Keep in mind that millennials might also be at the stage of life where they are starting families or have young children, and will want to appoint a Guardian for their children in their Will in the event something unexpectedly happens to them.

Different Planning for Different Types of Assets 

Millennials and baby boomers might have different types of assets that govern their estate planning strategies. For example, digital estate planning may be more relevant for millennials.  Since millennials often have a significant online presence and digital assets, they should consider including provisions for their digital assets in their estate plan. This may include access to social media accounts, digital photos, cryptocurrencies, and other online accounts.

On the other hand, baby boomers may have a significant amount of their wealth tied up in retirement accounts, real estate, and traditional investment portfolios. Their estate planning may involve strategies to minimize taxes, preserve assets, and ensure the efficient transfer of wealth to beneficiaries.

Other Estate Planning Strategies for Millennials and Baby Boomers

The landscape of estate planning is vast and varied, influenced greatly by the unique priorities of different generations. For millennials, the focus might be on addressing present financial concerns and future aspirations. Baby boomers, on the other hand, may emphasize strategies to ensure comfortable retirement years and leaving legacies. Here are some other strategies that both generations may consider in their estate plans: 

  • Healthcare Directives: Millennials and baby boomers should consider creating healthcare directives, such as a living will and a healthcare power of attorney (also known as a healthcare surrogate designation), which provide guidance on medical decisions and appoint a trusted individual to make healthcare choices on their behalf if they become unable to do so.
  • Durable Power of Attorney: Designating a durable power of attorney allows a trusted person to handle financial and legal matters on behalf of the millennial or baby boomer if they become incapacitated or unable to manage their affairs.
  • Life Insurance: Life insurance can be a valuable tool in providing financial protection for loved ones in the event of an untimely death  (especially in the case of a younger millennial), especially if they have dependents or outstanding debts.
  • Long-Term Care Considerations: The costs of long-term care can quickly deplete an estate. Long-term care insurance, (especially for baby boomers who will usually be in need of it faster than the millennials), can help cover these costs while preserving the assets for your heirs.  Medicaid Asset Protections Trusts can also help to preserve assets while allowing an individual to qualify for Medicaid to cover a long-term care facility.
  • Charitable Giving: Millennials often place importance on social and environmental issues. They may incorporate charitable giving and impact investing into their estate plans to align with their values. The baby boomers’ estate planning may involve philanthropic efforts and charitable giving, with a focus also on causes they are passionate about.
  • Annual Gift Tax Exclusion: In 2023, you can give up to $17,000 per year ($34,000 per married couple) to each individual without incurring a gift tax. This amount changes periodically based on the Internal Revenue Code, so it is important to keep up to date on the yearly limit.  Baby boomers and millennials should consider using this strategy to gradually reduce the size of their estate and potentially minimize estate taxes.

Estate planning is not a one-time event. Since life circumstances change, it is important to regularly review and update your estate plan to make sure that it reflects your current situation and desires. 

Contact Berkley Oliver Today to Schedule a Consultation

Estate laws are complex and can change frequently. It is important to consult with an estate planning attorney either to devise your estate plan or to make sure your plan is still up-to-date and effective. Contact the highly qualified attorneys at the law firm of Berkley Oliver PLLC to help you create a comprehensive estate plan tailored to your specific needs and goals, whether you belong to the millennial or baby boomer generation.

About the Author
Josh Berkley is an attorney and owner at Berkley Oliver PLLC who helps individuals implement plans to protect their assets and their loved ones. Josh focuses his practice in the areas of Estate Planning, Probate, and Elder Law.  From assisting young parents in making a plan to provide for their children, to helping senior clients qualify for Medicaid, Josh works with clients to create estate plans and life plans tailored to each person’s specific goals. He also helps clients with a wide variety of important legal documents such Wills, Trusts, Powers of Attorney, Healthcare Surrogate Designations, and Living Wills. If you have any questions regarding this article, contact Josh here.