Estate planning involves deciding and setting forth how you want your assets distributed after death, how your assets should be managed if you become unable to make your own decisions with regard to financial matters, and how your health care and personal matters should be managed if you become unable to make such decisions. Your estate plan would name one or more individuals (or corporate fiduciaries) that you wish to: (a) make financial decisions on your behalf in the event of your incapacity, (b) make health-care related decisions on your behalf in the event of your incapacity; (c) manage and distribute your assets after death, and (d) take custody and care of your minor children, if any, after death. Certain estate plans may also be able to avoid the costs and delays of formal probate of your estate, minimize the amount of Federal and State estate taxes due after death, and set up trusts for certain beneficiaries (e.g., minor beneficiaries; special needs beneficiaries; or beneficiaries with special issues such as addiction or over-spending) after your death. Without an appropriate estate plan:
- your estate may pass to unintended beneficiaries pursuant to Illinois’s intestacy statute (e.g., your probate assets may pass one-half to your surviving spouse and one-half to your children rather than 100% to your surviving spouse; your probate assets may pass to certain estranged relatives; your probate assets may pass to certain relatives rather than to your domestic partner);
- your estate may pass outright to your beneficiaries with unintended consequences (e.g., outright to minor children which would then require formal guardianship court proceedings for that child; outright to a special needs beneficiary which may disqualify that beneficiary from receiving public benefits);
- you may end up with an undesired individual (e.g., estranged relative or unqualified individual) handling your financial and health care matters or caring for your minor children;
- your estate may incur the significant costs and delays of formal guardianship court proceedings in the event of your incapacity; and
- your estate may incur the significant costs and delays of formal probate court proceedings (or even multi-state probate proceedings if you own out-of-state real estate) after death.
FMS Law Group LLC can assist in the development of an appropriate estate plan based upon your specific wishes, family situation, and net worth in order to provide for the smoothest, most cost-efficient transition for your family and other beneficiaries in the event of death or disability.
While self-prepared estate plans have become more popular and accessible on the Internet, a self-prepared estate plan can result in many pitfalls, such as a document that is not executed with the property formalities required by State law, ambiguities in the language, and improperly funded living trusts, all of which may result in significant costs and delays to resolve those issues and may even negate the goals of your planning efforts. Consider it an investment to have one of the attorneys at FMS Law Group assist you with an estate plan. A properly prepared and funded estate plan could save you and your intended beneficiaries thousands of dollars and eliminate many of the headaches and delays of litigation for your beneficiaries.
If you do not have an attorney who can assist you with your estate plan, one of our attorneys would be happy to meet with you for a free initial consultation. If you already have existing estate planning documents, we can also review them for you and recommend any necessary changes, especially given any of one or more of the following changes that may have occurred since you initially created your estate plan:
- the birth of a potential beneficiary;
- the death of a named beneficiary or fiduciary;
- you have divorced and/or remarried;
- you have had a falling out with certain family members or friends;
- you moved to Illinois from out of state;
- you received an inheritance;
- you now have a beneficiary with special needs who is receiving public benefits;
- business changes; or
- tax law changes.