It’s not always easy to talk about end of life decisions – whether they be for family, friends, or yourself. But a few tough conversations today can save you or your loved ones from overwhelming stress tomorrow.
Estate planning is an essential part of financial management that should never be overlooked. It involves setting up financial and legal instruments to oversee your assets after you no longer have the capacity to manage them yourself. Don’t leave the distribution of your estate in the hands of probate court or let family fight over them!
Instead, chart the course for your assets and establish a plan for your legacy. The good news is, you don’t have to do this alone! Working with an experienced estate planner, like attorney Ben Weaver is the best way to go. Rest assured the 23 Legal team has many years of experience assisting people of all ages with their estate plan. It’s never too early to get started.
Whoever you choose to partner with, asking your estate planner the right questions will ensure you make the best, most informed, decisions for your future and loved ones. In this article, we explore the top 10 questions to ask your estate planner…
What is Estate Planning?
Estate planning involves creating legal documents, such as a wills, trusts, power of attorney, and healthcare proxy. These outline the future of your assets once you die or are physically unable to take care of them. Estate planning can also involve minimizing estate taxes, protecting assets from creditors and lawsuits, and providing for minors or dependents. A well-rounded estate plan can provide peace of mind and ensure your legacy is protected and passed on to your dependents according to your wishes.
Why is Estate Planning Important?
Estate planning is beneficial for a variety of reasons. Let’s go over a few:
- Control over asset distribution: Without an estate plan, the court will distribute your assets according to state law, which may or may not align with your wishes.
- Minimizing taxes: Through careful estate planning, you can reduce the amount of taxes on your assets, preserving these for your loved ones.
- Protection of assets: A plan helps protect your assets from creditors and lawsuits, ensuring that your beneficiaries receive the full benefit of your assets.
- Appointing guardians for minor/disabled children: Estate planning can help ensure your children are cared for in your absence. You can also create provisions for family members with special needs. By appointing a guardian, you can ensure that your kids will be cared for by someone you trust and that their needs are met.
- Avoiding family disputes: Estate planning can help prevent family disputes by clearly outlining your wishes and ensuring that your assets are distributed fairly and equitably.
- Providing for incapacity: not only your family, but you will also benefit from an estate plan. You can grant financial and medical powers of attorney to individuals you trust, and they can take important decisions regarding your state if you’re unable to do so at any point.
Top 10 Questions to Ask Your Estate Planner
Is it time to revise your estate plan? Or maybe you haven’t created one yet and are finally ready to get started! If you’re new to this process and not sure what you should be asking, we can help steer you in the right direction…
- What type of estate planning documents do I need? Your estate planner should explain the different types of estate planning documents, including a will, trust, power of attorney, health care proxy, and living will. Depending on your specific needs and goals, they will advise which documents are necessary to create a comprehensive estate plan.
- How do I minimize estate taxes for my beneficiaries? Your estate planner can help you minimize estate taxes by using various estate planning techniques, such as gifting, establishing a trust, creating a charitable foundation, and using life insurance. It will be based on your assets and how you wish to have them distributed after your demise.
- What happens to my assets if I become incapacitated? If you become incapacitated, your estate planner will ensure that you have appointed a trusted person to make decisions on your behalf through a durable power of attorney. They may also advise creating a revocable living trust, which allows for seamless management of your assets if you become incapacitated. The terms of the trust can be changed at any point and you can update them if the circumstances require any changes.
- How often should I update my estate plan? An estate plan should be revised every 3-5 years. In case of significant life changes such as marriage, divorce, births, deaths, or changes in your financial situation, your estate plan and constituent documents will need to be updated to reflect these changes.
- What is the difference between a will and a trust? A will is a legal document that outlines how you wish to distribute your assets after you die. A trust is a legal entity that holds your assets during your lifetime. After your demise, they facilitate the seamless transfer of your assets to your heirs.
- How can I protect my assets from creditors or lawsuits? Establishing a trust or LLC to hold your assets can provide some protection against creditors or lawsuits. Depending on your specific needs, Ben Weaver can advise you regarding purchasing liability insurance or setting up a homestead exemption.
- Who should I appoint as my executor, trustee, and power of attorney? Your estate planner can advise on selecting trustworthy, responsible individuals to serve as your executor, trustee, and power of attorney. They can offer some recommendations, but the final decision will lie in your hands. They may also recommend appointing alternate individuals in case your first choice is unable or unwilling to serve.
- How can I ensure that my wishes are carried out after I die? With an estate plan, you can choose from a variety of legal instruments to ensure that the split of your assets is according to your preferences. Wills, revocable living trusts, or special needs trusts can be used to manage your assets, and take care of any wards, or minor children after you’re no longer around.
- How can I plan for the care of my minor children or dependents? You can set up a trust with terms regarding how the assets and funds are to be used to take care of the dependents. Set up a special trust if your kids have special needs. You can choose guardians for the management of the trust and taking major decisions. Depending on the needs of your minors and dependents, your attorney can guide you about what trust will be the best choice for you.
- How can I donate to charity through my estate plan? If you wish to donate or bequeath your assets to a charity of your choice, an estate plan is the best way to go. Your attorney can best advise you of the proper instrument of choice and can help you set up a fund that will contribute to the charity of your choice.
“Ben was easy to communicate with and on top of all of our real estate transactions. Would definitely recommend and use 23 Legal again!”– Client Testimonial
Do You Live in Illinois? Choose the Best Estate Planning Attorney in Chicago!
Estate planning is tricky and creating the best plan for you requires a thorough understanding of the law (state and federal), as well as knowing your unique goals and needs. For a successful experience, hire an attorney that is well-versed in estate law and inheritance law, and has considerable experience with estate planning.
Fortunately for you, attorney Ben Weaver at 23 Legal is the first choice estate planning lawyer in Illinois. Whether you’re single, divorced with kids, or downsizing to plan for retirement, it’s always good to have your affairs in order. Sit back, relax, and leave your real estate worries to us! We’ll make sure your future is secured and your loved ones are protected. Reach out to us here to set up your consultation. Click here to learn more about partnering with a real estate attorney.
Need help planning your estate? Setting up a trust?
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Set your family up for future success by working with 23 Legal: (847) 447-6004
Why Choose 23 Legal
23 Legal offers Real Estate and Estate Planning legal services to individuals, families, community associations and small business owners throughout Chicagoland. We know how intimidating “the law” can be. In fact, when most people think of law offices, they think of stuffy leather chairs, huge wooden desks and pompous lawyers who charge outrageous fees. That’s not us! We believe in 1-to-1; the same lawyer should work with you all the way through. Whether you have an estate planning issue, family trust concern, or you have a legal problem in regard to a new home, business, real estate or remodel, you need a lawyer who cares. That’s where Ben comes in! We are great listeners; more than that, we are lawyers who believe that our clients always come first.