Estate Planning (Wills, Trusts & More)
“Estate Planning is Life Planning; not Death Planning”
“Estate Planning is planning to retain control of your assets and your life for as long as possible, planning for care of your minor children and for your potential disability, and then, upon your death, planning to pass your assets to those you care about in the way YOU want to do it while saving taxes and costs to the greatest extent possible.”
“Good estate planning really takes a team of professionals, including your lawyer, your accountant, your financial advisor, your broker and your life insurance agent working together to establish directions for the distribution and management of your estate, provide for your loved ones’ welfare and, with clarity, state your end of life directives.”
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Estate Planning Services
A will, sometimes called a Last Will and Testament, is a written legal document that outlines what you want to happen to your “stuff” when you die – your personal and real property. Your will names someone, your executor, to make sure your wishes are carried out when you die as you instructed in your written document.
A will is fully changeable (revocable) while you are alive. While alive, you may change it as often as you desire and/or feel necessary. Your will becomes legally binding, unchangeable (irrevocable) only upon your death. A will is almost always subject to probate court proceedings. The original copy of your will is required to be filed with the clerk of the circuit court within 30 days of your death and, upon filing, it becomes accessible to the public at large unless it is sealed by the court.
A trust, also a written legal document, is an estate tool designed to avoid probate court. It takes all of your assets (or those assets of your selecting) out of your name and puts them in the name of the trust. Unlike the will it is a private document requiring no filing with the circuit court and thus provides no access to the public at large. It needs no court validation, unlike a will, and your named Trustee therein can upon your death immediately begin carrying out the wishes you delineated within your trust. It can be drafted to be changeable or unchangeable (revocable or irrevocable) and becomes effective immediately upon execution.
Power of Attorney for Property
This is a written legal document wherein you (who the law calls the Principal) designate a primary person and a successor (who the law calls your Agent) and give them a broad array of power to handle your financial affairs, which may include the power to pledge, sell, or dispose of any of your real or personal property without advance notice to you. Your agent must keep a record of all receipts, disbursements and significant actions taken in his/her role as agent and he/she has a duty to act in good faith. Selecting who serves as your agent is the single most important decision you make when utilizing this estate planning tool; make sure you trust the individual implicitly! You have the authority to make your power of attorney effective immediately OR effectively ONLY upon your having been declare incapacitated by a medical doctor.
Power of Attorney for Healthcare
This is a written legal document wherein you (who the law calls the Principal) designate a primary person and a successor (who the law calls your Agent) and give them a broad array of power to make healthcare decisions for you, including the power to require, consent to, or withdraw treatment for any physical or mental condition, and to admit you or discharge you from any hospital, home, or other institution. Your agent has a duty to act in good faith, for your benefit and to use due care, competence and diligence. He or she must keep a record of all significant actions taken on your behalf. Selecting who serves as your agent is the single you trust most important decision you make when utilizing this estate planning tool; make sure you trust the individual implicitly! You have the authority to make your power of attorney effective immediately OR effectively ONLY upon your having been declare incapacitated by a medical doctor.
For More Information on Estate Planning
I welcome you to contact Law at Last, Inc. to speak with me about my how I may be able to assist you to Get a Plan for your Life®! I work with clients throughout Cook County, Illinois.