By Lorne Welwood

Many young people cling to the acronym YOLO (you only live once). The truth is YODO… you only die once. Ideally, upon death, our wishes are carried out according to plan. But what if there was no plan in the first place?

The COVID-19 pandemic has forced young Canadians to confront an uncomfortable reality – we aren’t prepared to die. We have no plans in place in case of an untimely death. According to a 2018 study by the Angus Reid Institute, about 50 per cent of Canadians had done some form of estate planning prior to the pandemic. For ages 18 to 44 though, only 15 per cent of respondents had, saying they were ‘too young’ or ‘they didn’t have enough assets.’ These objections focus on a financial view of estate planning and fail to consider the many other components of a comprehensive plan.

There is no magical age when estate planning should commence. COVID-19 has proved that youth isn’t the shield we once imagined. Besides, accidents can happen, resulting in death or incapacity. Ask yourself: If a serious illness or catastrophe left me incapacitated, what would happen? Who would make health or financial decisions for me? Without a Power of Attorney and Representation Agreement in place, a court proceeding might be required.

What about ‘lack of assets?’ When young people think of ‘estate planning’ they may picture a mansion filled to the brim with gold bars. In reality, there is no threshold a household must surpass to start planning; it can be done for any amount of assets. Drafting a will, designating beneficiaries, and naming a power of attorney are components of planning that can be done no matter how large or small the estate. These are especially important when children or other dependents enter the mix. A properly drafted will is important to ensure your assets transfer according to plan and minimizes complications.

All-in-all, estate planning isn’t the scary monster young adults think it is. Covid has sparked some sober realizations, acting as a catalyst to drastically improve estate planning. The 18-24 year-old demographic exhibited 100 per cent growth in planning efforts in 2021 versus five years prior. Discarding the idea that estate planning is only for the wealthy is key for young adults. While the benefits are intangible for now, proper planning can make a major impact at the end of our lives. YODO: make sure your plan is ready!

(adapted from a blog written by Sierra Nunno)