Most people are aware of the need to have an estate plan in place; however, when does that need arise? If you have yet to create your estate plan, you may be wondering how you know it is time for you to do so. The simple answer is that every adult can benefit from having an estate plan in place. There are, however, certain life events that should trigger the need for estate planning services if you do not already have a plan in place. Those same events can also trigger the need to revise an existing estate plan. If you have experienced one of these events, it is in your best interest to consult an Illinois estate planning attorney right away.
Events That Trigger the Need for Estate Planning Services
If you experience any of the following events, you should take it as a sign that you need estate planning services:
- First serious job. When you are offered your first “grown-up” job, which usually occurs after graduating from college, you will need to start an estate plan to ensure that your savings and investments from that job are protected.
- Marriage. When you get married you will want to ensure that your spouse is protected and provided for in the event something happens to you. In addition, you will likely want to include an incapacity plan within your estate plan to ensure that your spouse takes over decision making for you if you are unable to make decisions for yourself as a result of an incapacitating illness or injury at some point down the road.
- Birth of a child. Becoming a parent is a “game changer” for most people. Suddenly, the need to plan and protect is strong. Protecting your child will require a well thought out estate plan that is focused on the needs of parents with minor children.
- Divorce. Just as marriage calls for estate planning services to combine two lives, a divorce also requires estate planning services to ensure that those lives are fully divided. Far too many people make the mistake of forgetting to update their estate plan during a divorce, thereby leaving an ex-spouse as the beneficiary of a life insurance policy and/or as the Agent under a power of attorney or advanced directive.
- Purchase of a home or other major asset. When you get to the point where you are able to purchase major assets, such as a home, you will need to revise your estate plan to reflect your wishes for how to handle those assets when you are gone. Furthermore, the more valuable your estate becomes, the more important estate planning will be if you wish to avoid your estate incurring a hefty tax bill when you are gone.
- A child reaches the age of majority. When your children are minors they cannot inherit directly from your estate if something happens to you. As soon as they reach the age of majority, however, you may wish to revise your estate plan to include a lump sum inheritance or staggered direct gifts to your children.
- Significant change in assets. Whether the value of your estate significantly increases or decreases, a significant change in the value of an estate definitely calls for at least a review of your existing estate plan.
- Starting a business. If you decide to become an entrepreneur, you will need to include a business succession planning component in your estate plan to ensure that the value of your interest in the business is not lost if something happens to you.
- Retirement. As you get closer to retirement age, you will need to plan accordingly. Medicaid planning, for example, may need to be added to your estate plan well ahead of your anticipated need to qualify for Medicaid benefits.
If you have additional questions or concerns regarding estate planning services, contact the experienced Illinois estate planning attorneys at Hedeker Law, Ltd. by calling (847) 913-5415 to schedule an appointment.
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