Many people believe that estate planning is something only for the wealthy and terminally ill. But having a comprehensive estate plan is important for everyone: Estate planning allows you to (a) appoint agents to act on your behalf when you cannot act for yourself, (b) provide direction to caretakers and medical professionals on the level and extent of care you want provided to you, and (c) control the disposition of your estate assets – so that your assets go to the people you want them to.
At a minimum, a person should have:
(1) A Last Will and Testament – which provides for the disposition of your assets after you die.
(2) An Illinois Short-Form Durable Power of Attorney for Property – which authozies a designated agent to act on the person’s behalf in dealing with their property and financial affairs.
(3) An Illinois Short-Form Durable Power of Attorney for Health Care- which authozies a designated agent to control all aspects of his or her personal care and medical treatment.
(4) A Living Will – which allows a person the fundamental right to to control the decisions relating to the rendering of their own medical care, including the decision to have death delaying procedures withheld or withdrawn in instances of a terminal condition.
In some instances, a more comprehensive estate plan is appropriate. For example:
(a) A person with minor children may designate a proposed guardian for the children, or a trustee for holding assets and paying costs for the children.
(b) A person may want to transfer assets to another without exposing those assets to that other person’s creditors.
(c) A person’s pet can be provided for by naming another (or some not-for-profit) to act as a caretaker for the pet and can incentivize the care though monetary payments.
(d) Living Trusts, Transfer on Death Instruments (TODI), and Land Trusts can all allow property to be controlled and passed to beneficiaries outside of a person’s probate estate.
(e) 529 College Savings and Prepaid Plans can be used to provide for tax-execpt distributions for a designated beneficiary’s college costs.
(f) Charitable gift giving through use of trusts or changing beneficiary designations on accounts and investments.
(g) Transfering ownership, but retaining control, of a family business through amendments to the operating documents for the business entity.
(h) Gift giving to non-family members or long-time unmarried companions.
Alicja M Sroka & Associates P.C. will help you evaluate your estate planning needs, advise you on your options, and then draft and execute the necessary documents to accomplish your goals.
Contact us to find out more about how we can assist you.