When it comes to planning for one's future, there are a lot of legal documents out there that some people think are unnecessary or that they simply do not understand. A power of attorney is a great document for Illinois residents to consider when going through the estate planning process. Unfortunately, there are a lot of misconceptions about what a POA can do and how it works. Hopefully, some of those misconceptions can be cleared up in this week's column.
No one wants to think about one's own mortality. It can be a depressing subject. Failing to think about it, though, can hurt oneself and one's family in the end. Illinois residents who are not ready to dive head first into the estate planning process can grant themselves and their loved ones some protection by at least having a valid will in place.
Illinois residents who have never played the role of executor of a loved one's estate may be confused as to what they need to do. Being an executor is not a small thing. One in this position has a big job and is responsible for getting the estate through the probate process and distributed to beneficiaries. Luckily, those picked as executors do not have to work through the probate process alone. They can seek help.
Naming beneficiaries on financial accounts and in one's estate plan is pretty easy to do. Submit their names and information and it is done. When the time comes, they will be contacted and money or other assets will be transferred to them accordingly. What some Illinois residents fail to do after they think their estate planning is done and all accounts taken care of is periodically check to make sure their beneficiary designations are up to date.
Numerous Illinois residents like to work on projects by themselves. Some do it for the satisfaction it can give from accomplishing something, while others get on the DIY wagon because it can save them a lot of money -- or at least they think it can. When it comes to certain projects, like getting estate planning done and out of the way, a DIY plan may sound like a good idea, but going this route could have some serious consequences in the end.
If a person becomes incapacitated, what happens to him or her? Who will make any medical decisions for that individual? Illinois residents who want a say in their medical care even if they are not in a state to express their wishes have a way to do it, and that way is by setting up advance directives. This they can do while going through the estate planning process.
A will is the most basic estate planning document available for Illinois residents. Unfortunately, it is not something that all adults have in place for when it is needed. When a loved one dies and does not have a will or other estate planning documents prepared, how will probate work?
Ask many Illinois residents about their estate planning efforts, and the answer is likely to be a laugh and a shrug. Many people are under the impression that unless they have a massive base of wealth, they have no need for estate planning and probate. That approach, however, is flawed, and fails to consider the many benefits of having a comprehensive estate plan.
Following the death of a loved one, family members may be pleasantly surprised to learn that the departed has left them a significant inheritance. For those in Illinois who are struggling financially, any asset gained has the potential to change the direction of their lives. However, one family in another state learned that without legal guidance, estate planning and probate may have unintended results.
Many Illinois residents may feel overwhelmed when they think about preparing estate plans. It is understandable, as there is a lot involved in doing so. For example, which estate planning documents does one actually need? There are so many to choose from, and depending on one's current situation and future goals only a select few may actually be required.