Estate Planning


Estate planning is one of the most important legal processes an individual can complete if they want to ensure their family’s financial security after their death. While you can easily find many free tools and software programs that can help the average person develop a basic will, this document should only be a portion of a complete estate plan. It is crucial to understand the benefits of working with a Joliet, IL estate planning attorney so you can make more informed decisions about your own estate plan.

Why Do I Need an Attorney for Estate Planning?

You might think your assets and property are straightforward enough that you do not need to worry about legal representation as you develop your estate plan. However, to ensure legal enforceability of the estate planning documents you develop, it is vital to work with an experienced and trustworthy Joliet, IL estate planning lawyer. At Vahey Law & Mediation, LLC, our team is committed to our clients’ success.

We understand how critical a proper estate plan is for your family after your death. Our goal is to help you develop an estate plan that limits uncertainty and ensures a smooth transfer of your property ownership rights to your loved ones after your death. Our team knows how to uncover the financial documents and other materials you need to craft a legally enforceable estate plan that will protect your family’s interests after your death.

What Should My Estate Plan Include?

It’s a common misconception that a will is enough to qualify as a complete estate plan. While it is possible to create a very detailed and legally enforceable will, this document is only one of several that should comprise a complete estate plan:

  • A will can outline your final wishes and last testament to your family. This document can provide guidance for the care of your minor children and other aspects of your divorce. You can include your choices for guardianship and also assign beneficiary rights to certain assets and property you control. If you do not create a will, the state will decide these issues based on strict legal statutes.
  • A living trust provides financial security toward the end of your life. This contract effectively places your assets and property into a trust controlled by a designated trustee. Upon the trust creator’s death, ownership of the trust’s contents passes to the trustee, and they have a legal duty to distribute the contents of the trust to the deceased’s beneficiaries according to the instructions included in the trust.
  • You should also create a Power of Attorney. Whoever you designate to hold Power of Attorney will have the legal authority to make financial decisions on your behalf. This document is important if you become seriously ill or incapacitated. Financial institutions will only release important documents to the owner of an account unless they have a Durable Power of Attorney designation that goes into effect as soon as the owner becomes incapacitated or otherwise unable to make financial decisions.
  • An advanced care directive is vital if you have specific beliefs and preferences about end-of-life medical treatment and palliative care. For example, some people prefer to have all medical options completely exhausted before life support is discontinued, while others would prefer to die naturally after a certain point. This document will ensure your preferences are upheld.

These four documents together can create a comprehensive and legally enforceable estate plan so long as you work with a reliable Joliet, IL estate planning attorney as you create them. If you do not create a viable estate plan or neglect to create an estate plan at all, your family will need to endure the lengthy, tedious, and stressful probate process.

What Is Probate?

The probate process is the legal transfer of ownership rights after a person dies when the deceased does not have an estate plan in place. Probate is notoriously challenging for grieving families as the judge overseeing the probate process must carefully inspect each and every detail of the proceedings. If the deceased has no estate plans in place, their loved ones may disagree with the court’s decisions concerning property distribution. For example, suppose the deceased promised something to one relative but the probate court awards it to another person. In that case, this can easily lead to a serious dispute among the family members.

It is generally best to ensure your family can avoid probate as much as possible after your death. Not only is the process incredibly stressful and prone to creating disputes, but it is also expensive in terms of the legal fees required for representation throughout the process. Developing a comprehensive and legally enforceable estate plan is the best method for helping your family accomplish this, saving them a significant amount of time and money while also allowing them to mourn more peacefully.

Find Your Joliet, IL Estate Planning Lawyer Today

While you can certainly take time to develop basic estate planning documents on your own time, it is crucial to have an experienced Joliet, IL estate planning attorney review your plans. They can help you ensure they are legally enforceable. Any inconsistencies can cause your estate plan to break down, ultimately leading to your beneficiaries enduring the probate process at some level. For example, if you have an older investment account or bank account with a previous spouse listed as a beneficiary, call our firm. It’s vital to change this and ensure it reflects the beneficiary designations of your estate plan. If you do not, your previous spouse would have a valid legal claim to the account.

The team at Vahey Law & Mediation, LLC believes in client-focused, comprehensive, and compassionate legal representation. We understand how important a reliable and legally enforceable estate plan is to you and your family, and we will work closely with you to develop an estate plan that accurately reflects your wishes and preferences for distributing your assets after your death. It is never too early to start working on your own estate plan, so contact Vahey Law & Mediation, LLC today and schedule a consultation with our team for reliable and trustworthy legal counsel you can trust for your estate planning needs.


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