Three-step process eases estate planning process

Often, the emotional aspect of thinking about death and planning for one’s own passing can be one of the most challenging parts of estate planning. If you’re finding it difficult to begin planning, here is an idea for a 3-step process to create a framework for your entire estate plan.

Begin by making three columns on a sheet of paper. Write the words ‘health’ and ‘money’ in the first and second row of the first column. In the second column, next to ‘health,’ write the name or one or two people in your life that you talk to about your health and doctor’s visits and who might take you to medical appointments. This is probably someone such as your spouse, adult child, or another family member or close friend.

After you have listed these people, use the third column to write down one or two alternative people to serve as backups for your first choice agent.

Once you have completed this one, move to the second row. Close your eyes and think of the first person you trust when it comes to money management and organization. If no one comes to mind for this one, instead think of someone who you think is most likely to pay bills on time. Again, list one or two alternative people in the third column.

Here is the second step after you have completed that chart: begin by creating another chart with three columns. Write the words ‘Residuary,’ and ‘Specific’ in the first and second row of the first column.

Next to ‘Residuary,’ list every person to whom you wish to leave a percentage of your total estate. This could only be one person, such as your spouse. In the third column, list the people who you would like to receive this property instead if the first person or people were not available. This might be children, grandchildren, siblings, charities, or other friends or family.

Now move on to the ‘Specific’ row. Use the second column to list the people to whom you would like to leave a piece of personal property. You don’t necessarily need to know yet what item you want to leave them, although you may already have something in mind.

Also, place a checkmark next to someone’s name if you would want their children to receive the items left to them if the individual is no longer living when your property is distributed. You can leave the third column blank.

This will be your list of beneficiaries. You’ll want to return to this list when you do your complete planning, but this will be a starting point.

Finally, take this time to write down questions and concerns you have about the future. If you have concerns about how long-term care will be paid for, protecting a disabled child, or timing for distributions to beneficiaries, list them here. Your estate planning attorney can structure your estate plan in order to meet your goals and concerns.

Estate planning should be intentional. This three step plan can be an excellent way to begin the planning process and ensure your estate plan fits your goals and wishes for the future.

For assistance with your estate planning documents, 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.