No one plans to die young, and no one likes to plan for after they are gone. But if you have minor children, a spouse, a business or other assets to protect, now is the time to protect your family’s future. If you die without an estate plan in place, the state will decide who gets what, who will have custody of your children – and it may not be what you would have wanted. Failure to plan will cause your loved ones stress, time and money at the time they need your protection the most. Here are 5 estate planning documents for everyone over 55 to put in place now to protect your loved ones’ future.
1. Durable Financial Power of Attorney
A durable power of attorney (DPOA) is used to allow the designated person to handle affairs in a specific area of a person’s life, such as in financial or health matters if you become incapacitated.
2. Durable Health Care Power of Attorney
What happens if you become seriously ill or injured, and can’t make your own medical decisions? Advanced healthcare directives are living documents that you can update and change as your situation changes. In Illinois, we use two types of advanced healthcare directives:
• Health Care Proxy
If you become incapacitated, who do you trust to make your health care decisions? If you don’t appoint a health care proxy, the courts will assign someone to make your medical decisions – and it may not be a person you trust. A Healthcare Power of Attorney is a durable power of attorney, a legal device that allows one person to indefinitely make decisions on behalf of another.
• Medical Power of Attorney
A Medical POA is a Durable Power of Attorney for Health Care is a signed, witnessed legal document where someone designates an agent to make health care decisions if they are temporarily or permanently unable to make such medical decisions. A durable power of attorney for health care lasts indefinitely and the person granting the POA authority typically retains the power to revoke it.
3. Living Will
Also called an Advance Directive, a living will is a legal document that describes what is to be done if you are left incapacitated in a terminal condition because of a disease, injury, or simply old age. Your living will documents your wishes in the event that you’re not able to express them yourself.
A Last Will and Testament describes what a person wants to do with his or her estate when he or she dies. If you die without this document in place, Illinois’ intestate laws will make these decisions for you—and your loved ones will incur extra probate costs and spend extra time dealing with your estate.
5. Digital Asset Inventory
Digital assets are any electronic files, programs or records that you own or that you control. There are estate planning guidelines for how your digital assets will be handled after your death.
Protect your loved ones today by planning for their tomorrow after you are gone. If your life circumstances have changed and you already have a will or advance directive, your family may have changed and you need to update your estate planning documents to reflect these changes.
At the age of 55, you need to secure your own future and plan for the future of your loved ones. An estate planning attorney can provide guidance and help you to protect your loved ones.
If you’re aged 55 and haven’t updated your estate plan, you should consult an experienced estate planning lawyer who understands probate laws for the state you live in. In Illinois for example, probate law has specific requirements for a will to be legally valid, and a will executed in another state may not be recognized under Illinois law.
Estate planning is preparing for the future. Contact Estate & Probate Legal Group in Lombard Illinois today at 630-864-5835.