CENTER FOR ILLINOIS ESTATE PLANNING
What is Estate Planning – An Overview
The process of estate planning allows an individual to plan ahead to meet his or her lifetime objectives as well as to provide for the disposition of one’s personal assets at their death. The documents that may be included in estate planning can include wills and trusts, as well as powers of attorney and healthcare directives. The planning process for estate planning is impacted by changes in federal and state law, particularly the tax and inheritance laws. As a result, an individual may find that they will require an attorney with a good solid background in estate planning and tax to create a more elaborate legal plan that fits the individual’s needs and complies with the federal and state laws. Depending on the circumstances, such an attorney might recommend more complex techniques, such as trusts, family limited partnerships (FLP’s), limited liability companies (LLC’s), charitable remainder trusts, charitable lead trusts, to name a few. Your attorney is an essential part in assuring that your estate planning goals are properly set and carried out. If you do have any estate planning questions, feel free to contact our firm today to schedule a consultation with one of our experienced estate planning lawyers.
What are the basic documents used in estate planning?
Everyone needs an estate plan, even if the estate is small, as all individuals want to make sure that their assets go to the people that he or she wants, when he or she wants them to have it ,and in the increments that the individual wants the beneficiary to receive. Using a qualified estate planning attorney may help to reduce tax liabilities, court costs and attorney’s fees and result in a streamlined process of administration at the time the individual dies. This will result in less stress on the family members who remain after an individual passes, as the person’s estate is planned and organized, with the decisions already made by the individual.
At a minimum, estate plans should include a will and a durable power of attorney. A will is a document that reflects the plan to distribute a person’s property after his or her death. The will also names guardians for any minor children of that person. A durable power of attorney allows a person to name the person who is authorized to make financial decisions during the lifetime of the individual, especially in the event that the person is not able to make such decisions due to incapacity of the individual.
Other documents related to medical care may also be part of an estate plan. The individual might include a medical directive (which is sometimes referred to as an advance directive, or a durable power of attorney for healthcare), which designates a person who will be making healthcare decisions for a person who is in a terminal state, as well as a living will, which expresses an individual’s desires regarding the use of extraordinary measures to extend his or her life when the individual’s physician states that there is no reasonable chance of recovery.
Do Estate Planning Documents meet Financial and other goals?
Besides the protections that estate planning documents provide at death, these documents can also provide for lifetime financial and other goals, such as retirement income, college funding, income following an unforeseen illness or disability, and the needs of the surviving family members. In order to accomplish these goals, the estate plan may include gifts to individuals and charities during life, purchase of life insurance, use of revocable (living) or irrevocable trusts, purchase of annuities and retitling or rearranging the ownership of personal and business interests. Of course, the tax impact of attaining these goals, including federal gift and estate taxes, must be considered when planning the estate.
The process of estate planning first requires a fully thought through plan with a qualified estate planning attorney, coupled with the proper documentation of the plan, using a will, trust, powers of attorney and other estate planning devices that are essential to the services that an estate planning attorney can provide. If you have questions about estate planning, contact our firm to schedule a consultation with an estate planning attorney.
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