Naperville Estate Planning Lawyer Discusses “The Big Three” of Estate Planning
If something tragic happened to you on the way home today, do you have any idea what would happen to your assets and belongings? For the purposes of this hypothetical, assume that the same tragic thing happened to your spouse at the same time. According to recent estimates, more than half of American adults do not have any type of estate plan in place, which means they would have virtually no control over their assets in the event of a tragedy.
As an estate planning attorney, I know how important it is to be prepared for the uncertainty of the future. I also realize that the process of estate planning may seem daunting and overwhelming. While some estate planning tools are extremely complex, the reality is that there are few documents that can be set up fairly easily, giving yourself and your loved ones security and peace of mind. “The Big Three” refers to three documents that every adult should have in place, including:
Most estate plans begin with a Last Will and Testament. Your will is a legal declaration of your wishes regarding the property and assets that belong to you upon your death. You can use your will to determine which of your heirs will receive which of your assets so that there is no fighting over your property after you die. Your will also allows you to nominate a guardian for your minor children in the event that you and your spouse die at the same time. If you own complex investments such as real estate or business holdings, you may need to do some additional estate planning, but a will is a good start.
A Living Will
A living will is vastly different from a “regular” will despite their similar names. While a will deals with your property after your death, a living will pertains to the medical care you wish to receive in the event that you become incapacitated. A living will does not address property or guardianship whatsoever. Instead, it gives you the ability to choose in advance what types of death-delaying procedures that you wish to have performed on you if you are ever in such a situation and cannot express your wishes at the moment. A properly-drafted living will can take the burden of life-or-death decisions off of your family members.
A Power of Attorney
The third document everyone should have in place is a durable power of attorney for property. Under Illinois law, a power of attorney for property allows you to appoint another person as your “agent” to act on your behalf in financial matters in the event that you become incapacitated. Your agent can use the power of attorney to sign paperwork on your behalf and to otherwise manage your finances and legal concerns. You can customize the rights and responsibilities of your agent based on your circumstances, and an estate planning lawyer can help you determine how to structure your power of attorney to meet your needs.
Contact a DuPage County Estate Planning Attorney
At the Gierach Law Firm, we are equipped to help you with The Big Three and any other estate planning matters you may be facing. To get started, contact one of our experienced Naperville estate planning lawyers today. Call 630-756-1160 for a confidential consultation.