Three Important Reasons You Need an Up-to-Date Estate Plan
For far too many people, estate planning is something they will take care of later, which is a nice way of saying that it is not very important right now. Unfortunately, “later” becomes “never” in a large number of situations, leaving family members and loved ones to make important decisions during a time already complicated by grief.
In my practice as an estate planning attorney, I have witnessed first-hand the reluctance to address the future. I have also seen such hesitancy evolve into peace of mind as my clients put together an estate plan that offers security instead of uncertainty for their families. Regardless of your age, marital status, or financial situation, there are several reasons why you should consider beginning the estate planning process right now:
Reason #1: Preparing for the Unexpected
If something tragic were to happen to you tomorrow—such as an incapacitating illness or injury—is there anyone in your life who would step up and make decisions on your behalf? If so, are you sure that he or she has the legal authority to make such decisions? Similarly, if you were to die without an estate plan, your family may not have the slightest idea about what should be done with your assets. By taking the time to draft a will, establish a trust, or choose a power of attorney, you can resolve these questions before they arise.
Reason #2: Reducing Taxes and Preserving Assets
Estate planning also affords you the ability to legally protect many of your assets from state and federal taxes, including estate taxes and inheritance taxes. Through the use of various trusts, you can legally limit how much the government claims of your estate. In some cases, you can eliminate your tax liabilities altogether. Your estate plan can also help shield your assets from creditors and potential lawsuits.
Reason #3: Protecting Your Heirs
If you decide to leave an inheritance for family members or loved ones, some of your beneficiaries may be minors. Illinois law—like that in all other states—requires that a guardian be appointed to manage the financial affairs of any minor beneficiaries. In your estate plan, you can save your family time, money, and energy by designating a guardian or trustee for the minors in your plan. You can also designate a guardian for an adult beneficiary who may be prone to bad financial decisions, negative influences, or creditor issues.
Keeping Your Plan Up to Date
If you already have an estate plan in place, you are off to a great start, and you are in a better position than more than half of American adults. Estate planning, however, is not a one-time deal. Your estate plan must be kept up to date to ensure that it is still viable when it needs to be. State and federal laws are constantly changing, which could affect how you wish to structure your plan. The same is true about changes within your family and among your loved ones. Most experts recommend reviewing and updating your estate plan at least every five years, if not more often, and when major life changes occur, such as a marriage, divorce, birth of a child, or death in the family.
Let Us Help
At the Gierach Law Firm, we understand that beginning the estate planning process can be difficult, but we firmly believe that is worth the effort. Contact one of our experienced Naperville estate planning attorneys to get the help you need today. Call 630-756-1160 to get started. You can also click or tap here to access our free, downloadable estate planning guides.