Estate planning is preparing for the future. Most people think of Wills when they think of estate planning, but it is so much more than that. Estate planning is about protecting yourself, your loved ones, and your legacy. If you have strong opinions about what should happen to you or your possessions if you are disabled or after you are gone (and most people do!), then you should have an estate plan in place.
Estate plans are not “one-size-fits-all.” Depending on your individual assets and financial circumstances, a Will may be the best option for distributing your assets after you are gone. A Will is a legal document that communicates how you wish your assets should be distributed after your death. It is important to trust an experienced estate planning attorney with this vital document.
In some circumstances, a Trust may be a good option for your estate plan. Unlike a Will, a Trust is a legal document that becomes active during your lifetime and continues after your death. A Trust can be a useful tool to avoid expensive probate administration and can be used to protect your assets from estate taxation. There are many different types of Living Trusts. If a Trust is the right option for your estate plan, our attorneys will help determine which type of Trust will best protect your assets and your loved ones.
A comprehensive estate plan should also include Powers of Attorney. A Power of Attorney is a document that helps your loved ones manage your healthcare and financial decisions if you become incapacitated or disabled. No matter how much or how little you own, Powers of Attorney are a vital part of any estate plan. Our legal team will help you plan for who will take care of you and your possessions now and into the future.
Our attorneys are experienced in estate planning and estate administration, so they will make sure your estate plan protects you and your assets and is legally enforceable. If you are interested in creating or updating an estate plan, call our office to schedule an appointment today. We will meet with you, answer your questions, and help you determine which estate plan makes the most sense for you and your loved ones.
A Will is generally the most important piece of an estate plan. Losing a loved one is often the most difficult experience one faces. By having a Will in place, you can help ease the burden your loved ones will feel after you are gone. A Will is a legal document that communicates how you wish your assets should be distributed after your death.
No matter what your financial situation is or what kinds of assets you have, a Will is an important document for any adult. A Will helps to give instructions to your loved ones for how to handle your assets and possessions after you die. A Will can also direct who will care for your children or other dependents. These are personal decisions, and a Will helps guide your family in making those decisions. Without a valid Will in place, decisions regarding how to distribute your assets or who will care for your loved ones will be left up to the court system and the Illinois probate statute, which may not make the same decisions you would make. That is why it is so important for you to express your wishes in a Will.
A Will serves several functions:
1) It appoints someone as an “Executor.” This person will be charged with marshaling your assets, paying your bills, and distributing your estate to your beneficiaries. Your Executor should be someone you trust to follow your wishes after you are gone.
2) A Will directs your Executor how to distribute your estate. It names your beneficiaries and directs what should be paid to your beneficiaries.
3) A Will can appoint individuals to care for your children, adults who are dependent on you, or your pets after you are gone.
Depending on your individual financial situation, a Living Trust may be a good estate planning tool for your assets. A Trust can ease your loved ones’ burdens after you are gone by providing clear instructions for how to distribute your assets.
Unlike a Will, a Living Trust is a legal document that becomes active during your lifetime and continues after your death. A Trust may direct for all of your assets to be distributed after you die, or it may continue to support your beneficiaries for years into the future, depending on what makes sense for you and your family. There are many different types of Trusts out there. If a Trust makes sense for your estate plan, our legal team will help select the Trust that will best protect your assets and your family.
A Trust serves several functions:
1) It appoints someone to act as “Trustee,” to manage and distribute your assets. During your lifetime, you would likely act as your own trustee. A Trust would also designate a Successor Trustee to step in the event of your incapacity or death.
2) A Trust names beneficiaries and directs how your trustee should distribute your assets and personal belongings after you die.
3) A Trust can appoint individuals to manage the distribution of your funds for your children, adults who are dependent on you, or your pets after you are gone.
4) A Trust can set aside funds to care for any of your beneficiaries who are disabled or have trouble managing their own money.
Our attorneys are experienced in drafting and administering Trusts, so, if a Trust is the right option for you, they will make sure your Trust protects you and your assets and is legally enforceable. If you are interested in creating or updating a Trust, call our office to schedule an appointment today. We will meet with you, answer your questions, and help you draft a Trust that makes the most sense for you and your loved ones.
Powers of Attorney
Planning for disability or incapacity should be part of any comprehensive estate plan. It is impossible to anticipate when or if you or someone you love will become incapacitated. That is why it is so important that your estate plan also include powers of attorney, so your loved ones can take care of you and your assets if you are unable to do so.
Powers of attorney are often an overlooked piece of estate planning, but they are perhaps the most important documents you can have in your estate plan. A power of attorney is a legal document that appoints someone to act as your agent in the event you become incapacitated or disabled. Your power of attorney, or agent, essentially steps into your shoes to manage decisions regarding your healthcare and possessions when you are unable to make those decisions for yourself.
A person signing a Power of Attorney must be of sound mind and memory. Once a person becomes disabled or incapacitated, it is too late for them to appoint a power of attorney, and it becomes necessary to establish a guardianship through the court system. Guardianship proceedings can be financially and emotionally expensive for loved ones. By executing a power of attorney before you become incapacitated you can help your loved ones avoid a lot of headaches and unnecessary expense.
Power of Attorney for Health Care
No one can ever anticipate when an accident or illness will incapacitate them. That is why it is important to have a power of attorney for health care decisions in place so your loved ones can make important health care decisions if you are ever incapacitated. A power of attorney for health care appoints an agent to make health care decisions for you when you are unable to communicate those decisions for yourself. This decision-making power may include:
1) The ability to view your medical records and discuss treatment options with your doctors
2) Choosing whether to discontinue or continue certain medical treatments
3) Choosing a medical facility for your treatment
4) Making organ donation or other after-death decisions
5) Directing the disposition of your remains
Power of Attorney for Property
It is also vitally important to execute a Power of Attorney for Property before you become disabled or incapacitated. A Power of Attorney for Property appoints an agent to make decisions regarding your possessions and assets when you are no longer able to communicate those decisions for yourself. If you are incapacitated or need long-term care, it is important to have a Power of Attorney for Property in place so the agent can pay your expenses and manage your financial affairs during your incapacity. Your agent will be able to make important decisions, including:
1) Filing income tax returns on your behalf
2) Managing your bank accounts or credit cards
3) Paying your bills
4) Selling your home or other assets if needed to help pay for your care
5) Hiring professionals to assist with any of these tasks
Your Powers of Attorney have tremendous control over your healthcare and financial decisions, so it is important that you appoint an agent that you completely trust to make those decisions with your best interest, and your wishes, in mind.
For estate planning, wills, and power of attorney, contact McNees & Associates, LLC at 630-665-8811.