A complete estate plan can avoid family struggles after death

On Behalf of | Apr 4, 2019 | estate planning |

End of life planning is not an easy matter for Illinois residents to come to grips with. This is true for people at any age. However, failing to have a comprehensive estate plan can cause problems after death. Family disputes, legal battles and more can come about if there is a hesitation or reluctance in drafting estate planning documents. Often, a main sticking point in drafting these documents is that the person – the testator – does not know what he or she needs. It is important to have legal advice that can tailor the estate plan to every individual’s situation.

According to research, only 42 percent of Americans have created an estate plan. Thirty-six percent of those with children under the age of 18 have done so. When there is no will, the state will decide how assets will be distributed and what happens to minor children. With these facts, there are various methods to be protected including: having a will, thinking about protective documents like a living will or power of attorney, considering a trust, making sure the wishes are known and assessing who the beneficiaries should be.

The will says who will get what after the testator dies. That includes money, property and more. It can also name someone to be a child’s guardian. Dying without a will is called dying intestate and the estate will be subject to state laws with no control as to how the assets are distributed. For those who are concerned about being incapacitated or facing medical treatment they do not want, a living will says what medical procedures can and cannot be done. For example, some do not want to be placed on a ventilator. The living will prevents it. A durable power of attorney lets another person make decisions in the testator’s stead.

A trust will keep the property for the beneficiaries. There is no probate and this can save money. The assets will be distributed as the testator says they should be and there could be stipulations for its distribution such as a beneficiary fulfilling various tasks. Naming the beneficiaries should be considered and planned for. If there is a retirement plan, the beneficiary will be listed and that could be different from the person the testator wants to receive the proceeds. This issue is common in divorce where people forget to change the name on the document. Documents such as these must be updated.

Regardless of the desires and family situation, having an estate plan is important to everyone. A law firm that specializes in estate planning should be contacted to help determine the best course of action and create the document that addresses all the person’s goals.

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