The third week of October has been designated by the United States House of Representatives as National Estate Planning Awareness Week since 2008. The intention behind this is to help the public learn more about estate planning and the impact it has on overall financial wellness.
Estate planning is often thought of as just making a will when one may be close to death. Though estate planning documents do determine what happens to property after someone passes away, a complete estate plan also helps with managing property during one’s lifetime. This is especially important for those with a family-owned business. In addition to this, health care proxies, powers of attorney, and other documents are used to ensure that someone’s financial and health care wishes are honored while they are living. It’s best to do this planning before the documents are necessary and while one is healthy and able take the time to make the best decisions regarding their finances and health.
Being proactive in your estate and financial planning allows you to:
· Make the decisions for the management of your assets during your life and after your death. Dying without a plan in place may mean that your property will not be inherited according to your wishes. For example, your property is likely to be distributed “outright and free of trust” which is not ideal for a minor child or someone collecting needs based government benefits when it comes to receiving an inheritance. You can also design your plan to avoid probate and reduce the time and cost of the administration of your estate.
· Choose the person to act as your health care agent and agent for financial matters while you are living. Otherwise, if you become unable to make health care or financial decisions, a guardian would need to be appointed for you. Guardianship proceedings often involve spending a lot of time and money, and the guardian who is appointed may not be who you would want.
· Choose who will act as executor of your estate, trustee of any trust you have, and guardians of minor children. If these documents are not in place, your state’s laws will determine who will serve in these capacities.
· Revise your plan in light of tax laws that are always changing, resulting in more assets being passed to your beneficiaries.
· Change your plan as circumstances in your life change, allowing your plan to evolve as your life does.
· Create greater peace of mind for you, your family, and your loved ones.
For help 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.