Comprehensive Estate Plans Include More Than Wills

DuPage County estate planning attorneyFor many people, the term “estate plan” is assumed to be synonymous with “will.”  However, a last will and testament is only one element of a comprehensive estate plan. A will can accomplish several important purposes; however, wills are also bound by certain limitations. When building your estate plan, it is important to consider other estate planning tools such as a living will, trust, and power of attorney. With this in mind, our firm offers a variety of estate planning packages that can be customized to meet your particular needs.

Advanced Directives Allow You to Plan for an Incapacitating Illness

Although it is an uncomfortable possibility to consider, it is important to think about what would happen if you ever became extremely ill and could not express your medical wishes yourself. Most people have strong opinions about the types of medical treatment that they do or do not want at the end of their life. Some choose to forgo life-prolonging medical treatments like mechanical ventilation or cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) if there is no chance of regaining consciousness. Others wish for any and all life-sustaining measures to be taken regardless of their chances. These decisions are extremely personal and should not be left up to doctors or family members. A living will allows you to decide in advance what types of medical treatments you do and do not want at the end of your life. This saves your family from the burdensome task of guessing what types of treatments you would want.

A medical power of attorney also addresses medical decisions in the event of incapacitation. The representative identified in your power of attorney documents will be responsible for speaking on your behalf regarding medical decisions if you cannot speak for yourself. A financial power of attorney assigns a representative to handle financial obligations and decision-making.

Trusts Give You Greater Control Over the Transfer of Assets

A trust is a financial instrument used to transfer assets to a trustee who is in charge of distributing assets to beneficiaries. Unlike a last will and testament, trusts avoid the probate process. This means that assets held in a trust are transferred to beneficiaries much more quickly than assets identified in a will. There are many different types of trusts that each serve a unique purpose and involve certain advantages. For example, if you transfer assets to an irrevocable trust, the trust becomes the owner of the assets. This reduces your tax liability and shields the assets from future creditors or lawsuits. A trust also allows you to establish criteria for when and how your assets are distributed to beneficiaries. For example, you may decide to delay your grandchild’s inheritance until he or she graduates from college.

Call Us to Learn More About Creating a Comprehensive Estate Plan

Building an estate plan is more than simply writing a will. At the Gierach Law Firm, our Naperville estate planning attorneys help individuals develop estate plans that meet their unique personal and financial goals. To learn more, call 630-756-1160 and set up a confidential consultation. You can also click or tap here to access our free, downloadable estate planning guides.


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