If you have yet to create an estate plan in Illinois, you have probably been told by more than one person that you need to do so. If you don’t have one already though, you may not know exactly what a comprehensive estate plan includes. A better understanding of what typically goes into an estate plan will help you realize why creating one is so important.
An estate plan is as unique as the person creating the plan. There are, however, some common components that most people include in their estate plan. For example, a Last Will and Testament serves as the foundation for almost all estate plans. Your Will can decide who will receive which assets when you die or it may direct your executor to other estate planning documents that actually distribute your assets.
Distribution of your estate assets is only the beginning of most estate plans though. Most people choose to include other components in their estate plan as well. One common addition is an incapacity plan. An incapacity plan allows you to decide now who will have control over your finances, your day to day decisions, and even your end of life decisions should you become incapacitated in the future. While this may come in handy in your golden years, it can also be needed prior to then as the result of a sudden accident or illness that leaves you unable to make crucial decisions for yourself.
Long-term care planning is another facet of estate planning that many people focus on when creating their plan. Thanks to advances in medicine and science, Americans are living longer – but at a cost. A stay in a long-term care facility can wipe out your life savings without care pre-planning.
Probate avoidance is yet another goal of many estate plans. Probate is the legal process that is used to inventory your estate assets and eventually transfer them to the intended beneficiaries. The process can take months, even years, to complete. For this reason, people often focus on ways to avoid probate when creating an estate plan. By doing this, your beneficiaries can have access to your assets much faster.
Finally, your estate plan may include very specific components such as special needs planning or pet planning. Yes, even the family dog or cat can be included in your estate plan by creating a pet trust to ensure that he or she is well cared for after your death.
The point is that your estate plan should be much more than just a Last Will and Testament that directs how your assets are to be distributed. A well-crafted estate plan in Illinois will protect you, your assets, and your loved ones for years to come.
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