Estate planning is not just for “the wealthy”, although people who have built great wealth do often think more about how to preserve it. Good estate planning often means more to families with modest assets, because they can’t afford to lose what they’ve worked so hard for. “When done properly, an estate plan can help individuals resolve everything from designating a guardian for children to passing on a family-owned small business and mitigating any intra-family conflicts.” After a lifetime of hard work, investing, saving and creating wealth, the last thing you want is for the government to take it all back. An estate planning attorney can protect you.
By definition, estate planning is “the process of anticipating and arranging, during a person’s life, for the management and disposal of that person’s estate during the person’s life and at and after death, while minimizing gift, estate, generation skipping transfer, and income tax.” Attorney Ben Weaver of 23 Legal is here to share what you need to know about Estate Planning, and how we can help!
Newlyweds: Saying “I do” represents uniting two lives into one. Your financial affairs need to be united as well. There are some serious decisions that need to be made when you begin the beautiful journey of marriage. Financial protection is one of the most vital forms of acceptance within your union. Along with being on the same page about medical choices in case you are incapacitated. The fine details of your personal wishes should be legally recorded. Once you and your partner have discussed how you want these important situations handled, it’s important to find an attorney you can trust. Financial security is the best wedding gift you can give each other!
Elderly: As our loved ones begin to age, we tend to avoid conversations about what happens when they pass and what to do with all of their possessions. It can be extremely difficult to think of a world without these special people. Yet, knowing their wishes while they are physically here is a wonderful peace of mind for everyone involved. Are you in your third act of life? It’s vital to consider the following…Where do you want to be buried? Do you have a DNR (Do Not Resuscitate)? How would you like to share your finances with children and grandchildren? What do you want taken care of when you’re gone?
Check Out our Guide to Estate Planning 101…
Last Will and Testament: Saying “goodbye, all will be well” with a plan or guide for your family & friends.
Last Will and Testament: This document spells out who receives your possessions and assets when you die. It also states other important information such as who you want to place in charge of administering your estate and who you want the guardian(s) of any minor children to be, should you have any. It is important to note that without this document, your state government will be the one handling your affairs in accordance with state law, which is usually a less than ideal situation. When preparing your wills, it is important to review the titling of your assets, as well as the beneficiary designations you have made on any life insurance policies and retirement accounts.
“Be aware that the provisions of the will only govern those assets that remain after transfers have been made to designated beneficiaries or co-owners by title or state community property laws.” Illinois State Bar Association.
Durable Power of Attorney putting your trust into the person of your choosing – legally!
Durable Power of Attorney: Responsible for assigning an individual, known as the “attorney in fact”, who can make financial decisions for you, should you be incapacitated. When financial challenges, bills need paying, investments need managing or assets need to be sold, this document will allow the attorney in fact to act on your behalf.
“Given the large amount of power and responsibility these powers can place on a person, it is usually a good idea to choose someone you explicitly trust.” Illinois State Bar Association.
Choosing a Health Care Proxy could be a life saving decision!
Health Care Proxy: Permits a specified person (an agent) to make medical decisions on your behalf, allowing them the ability to authorize medical procedures and treatments. Choosing a trustworthy agent is critical. A HCP can make sure all your medical documents are in order and ready at any minutes notice. It is not just for “retired” people, although people do tend to think about it more as they get older. Unfortunately, we can’t successfully predict how long we will live, and illness and accidents happen to people of all ages.
“If you become incapacitated and cannot speak for yourself, you’ll want someone who knows you and your decisions to advocate on your behalf.” – Everplans
Living Wills are well planned guides for your loved ones…
Living Wills : Due to their very nature, these areas of estate planning can be as serious as they are emotional. Discussing these difficult “what if’s” can be challenging; however, it is important to acknowledge that should the worst arise, you and your family have a plan in place – this eliminates needing to make last minute emotion-driven decisions. Here is a list of things to be planned within a Living Will:
- Limiting estate taxes by setting up trust accounts in the name of beneficiaries
- Establishing a guardian for living dependents
- Naming an executor of the estate to oversee the terms of the will
- Creating/updating beneficiaries on plans such as life insurance, IRAs and 401(k)s
- Setting up funeral arrangements
- Establishing annual gifting to qualified charitable and non-profit organizations to reduce the taxable estate
- Setting up a (POA) to direct other assets and investments
“The failure to have such a document in place can result in the need for a wrenching family decision on whether to withdraw life support, or even a high-profile legal battle.” – Fifty Plus Advocate
Too many people don’t plan ahead, don’t be one of them!
- 55% of Americans die without a will or estate plan
- 71.6% of Americans do not have an up-to-date will
- 33% of older Americans have not discussed later-life and end-of-life plans with their family
It’s important to work with an attorney on your estate plan at any point in your life, you’re never too young to put plans in place. Life is unpredictable and it’s best to do what you can to prepare for anything. An estate lawyer works with people from newlyweds in their 20s and 30s, to the very elderly; to help them make sure their long-term care needs are met. The attorney’s role will include guiding you through the creation of fundamental estate planning documents.
You’ll make the decisions, but your attorney can help you think through your choices and make suggestions based on your desires. The attorney will also help you communicate your wishes clearly, avoid mistakes, minimize taxes, and adjust your plan as time goes on or your circumstances change.
As you can see, it’s vital for people of all ages to plan ahead. Individuals often put off estate planning because they think they don’t own enough assets to need it, they’re not old enough, they’re too busy, think they have plenty of time in the future to do it, they’re confused, or often don’t know who can help them. Then when something happens, unfortunately their families have to pick up the pieces and guess what the individual would’ve wanted.
Don’t let fear of the future keep you from getting your affairs in order! Attorney Ben Weaver has earned a reputation as a trustworthy lawyer who truly cares about his clients. Contact Ben today to learn how he can help your family plan for the future. Imagine having a peace of mind knowing they will be okay no matter what….
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.