Year End Shopping… Don’t Neglect Your Estate Plan
With the end of the year coming up, everyone’s focus is on holiday shopping. However, now is also a great time to assess your estate plan to ensure you are prepared for anything the new year may bring. Creating a comprehensive estate plan is one of the best gifts you could give your loved ones. Here are just some of the many benefits of having the qualified attorneys at Boznos Law craft an estate plan you and your family:
- Decide Who Receives Your Assets at Death: While you may not be aware, Illinois has already written a will for you (through the intestacy statute). The distribution of assets through this statute is not how most people would want their assets distributed at death. You can override this statute in several ways: (1) by validly executing a will; (ii) or by creating a revocable trust; (iii) by owing your assets jointly; or (iv) by providing for the disposition of your assets pursuant to a transfer on Death (TOD) or beneficiary designation.
- Avoid the Time and Costs of Probate: Assets you won in your individual name are subject to probate. Probate is a time consuming and costly exercise, requiring court oversight at each step and usually takes a minimum of six months. A personal representative (executor) that is appointed by the Court is also entitled to a percentage of your assets for administering the estate, and the attorney hired by the executor is also entitled to legal fees. Merely executing a will does not avoid probate.
- Name Guardians for Minor Children: If you die without a surviving spouse to care for your minor children, a guardian/conservator will need to be appointed by the probate court to care for your minor children upon your death. The only way to sidestep this and ensure you have the correct person to care for your children is through a will or the provisions in a revocable trust.
- Take Control Over Who Your Personal Representative (Executor) Will Be: By executing a will or a revocable trust, you have the power to designate who you would like to be your “personal representative” to oversee the administration of your assets.
- Avoid the Public Nature of a Will: After you die, your will must be filed with the probate court. Anyone can gain access to it and read your testimentary desires and assess all of your assets. If you would like to keep your financial affairs private, it is best to execute a revocable trust, which is a totally private document.
- Restrict Your Children’s Access to their Inheritance: By naming a Trustee through a revocable trust, you are able to restrict exactly when your designees/children will receive their inheritance. This can be especially useful if you have young children or children that have exhibited poor judgement in financial or other matters. You will have the peace of mind that their share will not be squandered all at once or at an age when they might not make the most sound financial decisions.
- Ensure Your Assets Stay in the Family, Even if your Spouse Remarries: By leaving your assets to your spouse in trust, instead of allowing him/her to have them outright, you can be certain that they will eventually pass to your children and grandchildren, as opposed to being used for your spouse’s new husband or wife.
- Protect Your Assets from Future Creditors: If you have potential creditor problems or work in an industry that is subject to litigation (such as the medical industry or the owner of commercial or residential real estate) there are several vehicles (such as a partnership or trust) available to isolate your assets from future creditors. These techniques involve giving up some control of your assets in favor of your family members while maintaining the right to use assets when needed (subject to the approval of family members).
- Direct Your Family and Physicians How to Make Medical Decisions: If you haven’t executed a Health Care Power of Attorney and become incapacitated, a doctor and not your loved ones will be in charge of making health care decisions for you. A Health Care Power of Attorney allows you to designate an agent who will carry out your desires and not rely on the judgment of a medical provider who may not share your views. It also allows your agent under what circumstances you would like life sustaining measures to be discontinued (i.e. if you are in an irreversible coma or vegetative state with little chance of recovery.)
- Avoid Bitter Family Feuds and Make a Difficult Time Easier: Specifying in writing (preferably through a revocable trust) how you want your assets distributed at your death can avoid costly and time consuming family fights over how your assets should be distributed at your death.
With over 30 years’ experience in advising families and businesses on estate planning issues, let Boznos Law work with you to ensure you are ready to meet the challenges posed by the ever changing estate planning landscape. Call Bill Boznos today at (630) 375-1958 or contact us at www.boznoslawoffice.com/contact-us through our website at www.boznoslawoffice.com