Although most people realize the need to have an estate plan in place, a surprising number of them do not have one. When asked why they have yet to create a comprehensive estate plan, several answers predominate. One of the simplest is the fact that people are unsure where to begin and/or what they need. The best way to determine what estate planning legal services you need is to consult with an experienced Illinois estate planning attorney. In the meantime, however, it may be beneficial for you to learn more about what estate planning services are available.
What Is Estate Planning?
At its most basic, estate planning involves planning for the distribution of your estate when you are gone. Your estate, in turn, consists of all the assets you own at the time of your death, including both real and personal property as well as tangible and intangible assets. For most people, a Last Will and Testament is the tool of choice for distribution of their estate after they are gone. Comprehensive estate planning, however, involves much more than just creating a roadmap for the distribution of your estate, meaning you will need more than just a simple Will in your estate plan.
What Estate Planning Legal Services Might Be Included in a Comprehensive Estate Plan?
Your Last Will and Testament will likely serve as the foundation of your comprehensive estate plan. Therefore, the first estate planning legal service you will likely need is someone to help you create your Will. A Will can distribute all of your estate assets; however, you may choose to use other estate planning tools in lieu of, or in addition to, a Will to distribute your estate upon your death. Specifically, people often decide to establish a trust to be used to protect and grow their estate and then eventually distribute the assets held by the trust. Creating a trust is something an estate planning attorney should help you with to ensure that the language in the trust agreement accomplishes your goals. A trust can be used to further several estate planning goals, including:
- Incapacity planning – although most people think of dementia related to old age when they hear the word “incapacity,” the reality is that incapacity can strike anyone at any time as a result of a tragic work place accident, a debilitating illness, or a catastrophic personal injury accident. If you became incapacitated tomorrow, who would make personal and medical decisions for you? Who would protect and control your estate assets? A revocable living trust can answer these questions by allowing you to appoint yourself as the Trustee of the trust and someone of your choice as the successor Trustee to take over for you upon your incapacity.
- Medicaid planning – a Medicaid trust can protect your hard-earned assets while setting you up to be eligible for Medicaid benefits should you need them at some point in the future to help cover the high cost of long-term care.
- Asset protection – putting assets in the right type of trust can protect them from creditors, spendthrift beneficiaries, and a variety of other threats.
- Special needs planning – if you are the parent of a child with special needs, you risk your child’s eligibility for much needed assistance programs by leaving assets directly to your child in your estate. A special needs trust allows you to leave assets to help supplement your child’s care without jeopardizing his/her eligibility.
- Probate avoidance – probate can be a costly process, both in terms of time and money. By creating a trust to hold the majority of your assets you can dramatically reduce the cost involved in probating your estate because assets held by the trust are not required to go through the probate process.
These are just a few of the estate planning legal services you might need to include in your comprehensive estate plan. Be sure to sit down with an experienced Illinois estate planning attorney to determine what specific services you need.
If you have additional questions or concerns regarding estate planning legal services, contact the experienced Illinois estate planning attorneys at Hedeker Law, Ltd. by calling (847) 913-5415 to schedule an appointment