Despite understanding the importance of having an estate plan in place, over half of all Americans do not have one. Moreover, many of those who do have a plan fail to update and/or expand their plan as needed. One of the primary reasons for the lack of a plan, or for an inadequate plan, is the simple fact that estate planning can be intimidating, confusing or “I’ll put it off until next month/year”. The average person doesn’t know when to start planning, what to include in a plan, nor when changes should be made to their plan. The best way to ensure that you have an estate plan in place that achieves all your goals and meets all your needs is to work with an experienced estate planning attorney. To give you a head start, however, the Illinois estate planning lawyers at Nash Bean Ford & Brown, LLP answer the top five estate planning questions.
- When should I start estate planning? By far, one of the biggest misconceptions with regard to estate planning is that you need to reach a certain age, acquire a small fortune, or start a family before you need an estate plan. Every adult should have at least a basic will or or well drafted estate plan in place without regard to age, wealth, or familial status.
- What should be included in my first estate plan? Almost everyone executes a Last Will and Testament first to act as the foundation of their estate plan. A Will allows you to appoint an Executor for your estate, decide what happens to assets you own, and nominate a Guardian for minor children if one is ever needed. Because incapacity can occur at any age, and because most people have strong feelings about medical treatment decisions, you may also wish to execute an advance directive which allows you to appoint someone to make healthcare decisions for you if you cannot make them yourself and even lets you make some decisions now that you might not be able to make at some point in the future because of incapacity.
- What other components should I add later on? Numerous factors should be considered when choosing components to add to your plan; however, some common additions include incapacity planning, probate avoidance, asset protection, and retirement planning. If you become a parent, estate planning strategies for parents with minor children should also be included in your plan.
- What should prompt a revision of my plan? A routine review should occur every three to five years until you get close to retirement age. In addition, there are many life events that call for an immediate review, including:
- Marriage, divorce or change in health
- Birth or death of beneficiaries
- Change of trustee and/or executor for any reason
- Children reaching the age of majority
- Move to a new state
- Changes in applicable laws
- Reaching retirement age
- Major change in assets
- Do I really need an attorney to help me? With the pervasiveness of the internet, and the ability to find just about anything on the internet, it can be very tempting to use DIY estate planning forms located online. It may seem as though doing so will save you time and money. Unfortunately, the opposite is often the case – using DIY estate planning forms usually ends up costing your estate and your loved ones considerably more time and money than you saved by foregoing the assistance of an experienced estate planning attorney. DIY estate planning forms frequently contain errors, are out of date, and/or fail to take into account state specific laws or procedural requirements. Having a Will that is ambiguous, fails to distribute your entire estate, and/or is open to challenges because of errors or problems with the language contained in the Will is often worse than dying intestate in terms of the litigation that ensues during the probate process.
Contact Illinois Estate Planning Lawyers
For additional information, please download our FREE estate planning worksheet. If you have questions or concerns regarding the estate planning in the State of Illinois, contact the experienced estate planning attorneys at Nash Bean Ford & Brown, LLP by calling 309-944-2188 to schedule your appointment today.