If you are one of the millions of Americans who have yet to create an estate plan, there is no time like the present to get started. Like many of your fellow procrastinators, you probably have not started on your plan yet because you don’t know how to get started. Inheritance planning sounds easy enough when you are contemplating your plan; however, it becomes much more complex and confusing when you actually sit down to try and get started. This is one of the many reasons why you should work closely with an experienced inheritance planning attorney when you do decide to move forward with your inheritance plan. The Waukegan inheritance planning attorneys at Hedeker Law, Ltd. offer some suggestions to help make the process less intimidating, including defining your goals.
Steps in the Creation of Your Inheritance Plan
No two inheritance plans are exactly the same. Neither is the planning process exactly the same for any two people. There are, however, some common steps you will likely take when creating your inheritance plan, such as
- Define your goals. Before you can really get started with your inheritance plan you need to sit down and define your goals. More about that later.
- Assess your assets and liabilities. You undoubtedly have a pretty good idea of what your net worth is; however, when you start focusing on the details of your inheritance plan you will need details relating to your assets and liabilities as well. The easiest way to handle this is to make two lists – one for assets and one for liabilities. Include as much information as possible by each entry so your Executor can use the lists as well when the time comes to probate your estate.
- Identify beneficiaries and special bequests. Your primary beneficiaries are easy – spouse, children, family, and friends; however, you may also want to add a charity or even your family pet once you really think about it. Also, start thinking about specific bequests you wish to make,
- Choose fiduciaries. Do not make the common mistake of appointing fiduciaries, such as your Executor or a Trustee, without taking the time to really consider who is right for the position.
- Consult with an experienced inheritance planning attorney. Once you are ready to sit down and put your inheritance plan together, you need to consult with an experienced inheritance planning attorney. Do not make the mistake of trying to DIY your inheritance plan. The DIY forms you find on the internet will almost always create problems for your loved ones when it comes time to actually probate your estate. The relatively small account of money you save now could end up costing your loved ones a small fortune in legal fees down the road.
What Are Your Inheritance Planning Goals?
The very first thing you need to do when creating an inheritance plan is to take some time to define your goals. Of course, distributing your assets will be one of your goals; however, a well thought out inheritance plan can accomplish so much more than just deciding how your assets will be handled after your death. With that in mind, consider some of the following common goals that you may wish to include in your comprehensive plan:
- Probate avoidance – probate is costly, both in terms of money and time. Avoiding probate, therefore, saves your loved ones both time and money.
- Incapacity planning – you stand a one in five chance of suffering a period of incapacity before you retire and the odds increase significantly after that point. Incapacity planning lets you choose who will take over for you if you become incapacitated.
- Protecting the inheritance of a minor child – your minor child cannot inherit directly from your estate. To protect his/her inheritance, you may wish to establish a trust.
- Long-term care planning – at an average annual cost of over $80,000 nationwide, the cost of long-term care could deplete your retirement nest egg in no time if you failed to plan ahead.
- Asset protection – there are likely many more potential threats to your hard-earned assets than you realize. Fortunately, there are also a number of ways to protect those assets in your inheritance plan.
- Funeral and burial planning – if you have strong beliefs about how your body and/or the service should be handled after death you need to include those beliefs in your plan to ensure that your wishes will be honored.
Contact Waukegan Inheritance Planning Attorneys
For additional information, please join us for an upcoming FREE seminar. If you have additional questions or concerns regarding inheritance planning goals in the State of Illinois, contact the experienced inheritance planning attorneys at Hedeker Law, Ltd. by calling (847) 913-5415 to schedule an appointment.