Although the term “estate” makes many of us picture huge, luxurious houses, estate planning isn’t just for the ultra wealthy.
All of the property you own – including your home, heirlooms, jewelry, accounts, and insurance – is your estate. Estate planning is important for the present and future management of your property as well as its eventual distribution. If you put off planning, those you love and want to care for may not receive as many of your assets as you wish.
It is important to create a will or trust to protect your estate after you are gone, as well as a durable power of attorney and medical directives to protect you while you are still here.
An estate plan protects not only you, but also your family and your assets. It can also provide for charitable causes that you wish to support now and always. Without an estate plan in place, the state will step in with a standard plan, but this plan cannot:
• Provide differently for your heirs based on their individual needs.
• Provide the guardian you would choose for a child or a family member with special needs.
• Provide for special friends or your favorite nonprofit.
• Reduce or eliminate any tax liability.
One way you can begin estate planning is to list the four “P’s” — people, property, plans, and planners.
First, list the people for whom you want to provide – your family, friends, and charitable causes.
Next, list the property that you own – appreciated assets, investments, real estate, retirement funds, life insurance, and personal property such as jewelry, furniture, vehicles, collectables, and other items that have sentimental value to you or your loved ones.
Begin your plans by thinking about how you would like to provide for the people you listed. Consider how you can match your property with those you care about and how you can provide the best tax advantages for when your property is distributed.
Finally, choose a planner who you believe can help you create and implement the best version of your plan. An expert advisor can ensure that your wishes are clearly documented, are functional and legally valid, and that the tax implications of your estate plan have the greatest benefit for your estate and beneficiaries.
For assistance with your estate plan, contact us at Wilson and Wilson Estate Planning and Elder Law, LLC at 708 482 7090 for our main office in LaGrange, Illinois or at 847 656 8958 for our Northbrook, Illinois office.