Estate planning is the process individuals undergo to ensure proper legal protections for their financial resources and their families. A skilled Will County estate planning attorney can help anyone looking to set up an estate plan determine which assets they should secure.
An Illinois estate planning attorney can help clients ensure that their wishes are carried out in the event of their death or incapacitation. Some of the tasks they assist with include the following.
Although every estate plan is unique to the individual, the four estate planning documents are essential to most comprehensive plans.
A will is a document that distributes an individual’s assets by stating who will assume ownership of them after the person passes away. It is essential to have a will in place, as the failure to do so means assets are distributed according to the intestacy laws of the state where the individual resides. By creating a will, the individual is able to dictate their wishes for the distribution of their assets to charities, friends, and family members.
When a will is written, the individual names an executor to ensure their wishes are carried out as they would want. It is especially important to have a will when minor children are in the family, as the individual can name a guardian for them.
It is vital to recognize that some assets cannot be included in a will, including:
Estate planning lawyers can assist an individual with creating this document to authorize a person to manage their finances if they are unable to. The power of attorney can be set up to only become active once the individual is incapacitated. However, some individuals wish to have it effective immediately as a matter of convenience. This would be important for those who expect to be traveling and may be unable to handle these matters on their own.
This document allows the individual to specify which transactions and financial matters they wish to authorize. It is also important to note that a financial power of attorney is only effective when the individual is alive. It does not give anyone the authority to make medical decisions for them.
Will County attorneys can help their clients set up these documents to manage their health by stating their medical and end-of-life care wishes. This is important, as the individual may not be able to make such decisions on their own. The documents allow them to dictate exactly what they want in terms of feeding tubes, ventilator use, and other life-prolonging medical procedures. Some individuals refer to these directives as a “living will.”
The state of Illinois allows individuals to create a medical power of attorney, which names a person who can make healthcare decisions for the individual if they are unable to. In other states, the individual can name this person in their advance care directive.
This estate planning measure allows the individual to place their assets under the ownership of a trust while they are alive. During the individual’s lifetime, the trust owns and manages the assets, but upon their death, a person the individual has named as “trustee” distributes the assets to the named beneficiaries. This can save the family time and money, as the estate can avoid probate court. It instead allows the assets to be distributed immediately upon the individual’s death according to their wishes.
Individuals also have the option of setting up a revocable living trust, which allows them to make changes during their lifetime. In most cases, this type of trust doesn’t allow the family to avoid estate taxes, as the state and federal government have established estate tax exemptions that the assets must meet. It is important to note that a living trust does allow individuals to use their assets as they wish during their lifetime.
The best way to distinguish an estate planning attorney from a probate lawyer is to look at them in terms of “before and after.” An individual hires an estate planning lawyer while they are alive to establish a plan for the distribution of their assets upon their death. On the other hand, a probate attorney is hired after an individual’s death to help the family with matters such as validating and administering a will. These legal professionals handle matters in probate court after a person has died.
If you wish to plan for your medical wishes and distribution of assets, it is crucial to have an experienced attorney on your side. The legal professionals at Vahey & Betouni Law & Mediation have the experience and compassion clients are looking for when they make these arrangements. Visit our website today to see how we can help you.