Procrastinating in making or updating your estate plan can cause stress to your heirs and loved ones – and damage your financial legacy! By putting off updating your will, trusts, power of attorney, healthcare proxy and other important estate planning documents, all your good intentions to protect the financial future of your family can be lost due to the cost and time involved in settling your estate in the probate courts.
The sad reality is most Americans do not want to think about their end-of-life plans, and make plans for after their own death. Even after the pandemic scare when many people made or updated their will, some estimates say that 50-60% of all Americans do not have a will or other written estate plan such as a living trust.
For parents of minor children, the consequences of procrastination are even more severe. Here are five ways procrastinating in your estate planning can damage your legacy.
1. Not Naming A Legal Guardian For Minor Children
If you have minor children and become ill or die, who will take care of your children? If you do not designate a guardian, the courts will determine who gets legal and physical custody of your children and is authorized to make decisions about your children. You can designate a guardian for your minor children after your death in a will, but if you become temporarily ill, your will does not go into effect. An Illinois Short Term Guardianship can protect your family if you are temporarily unable to care for your child.
2. Die Without A Will
If you die without a will in Illinois, your assets will be transferred according to the state’s “intestate succession” laws. Who inherits what will depend on whether or not you have a living spouse, children, parents, or other close relatives when you die. Intestacy laws divide a person’s property based on the family relationships that are in existence at the time of their death.
3. Deceased Beneficiaries
Does your will include contingent beneficiaries? What happens if one of your beneficiaries dies before you, but you never updated your will? Comprehensive estate plans should name two levels of beneficiaries, primary beneficiaries and contingent beneficiaries. The first person who stands to benefit from the plan is the primary beneficiary. This person has first claim on any benefits that may result from the maturity of the plan. The secondary beneficiary, or contingent beneficiary, can be another person or a charity you wish to gift your assets to.
4. Outdated Wills
You made a will when you got married – 35 years ago. But you’re still married, so you’re good – right? Wrong! Estate planning laws, forms and practices change. If you want to be financially responsible and protect your financial legacy, have an experienced estate planning attorney review your will and make sure it is up to date and meets the current tax and inheritance laws.
5. Power Of Attorney
Who holds your power of attorney – and under what circumstances? What happens if you become incapacitated or die? Who can make sure the bills are paid and your family is protected while your estate is being settled?
Estate planning procrastination can damage your financial legacy, and your loved ones. An experienced estate planning attorney will help you safeguard the future of your loved ones.
The experienced estate planning attorneys at Estate and Probate Legal Group can help you create an estate plan so that your legacy is protected – and so is your family and loved ones. Please contact our office at 630-864-5835 to schedule a meeting with our experienced attorneys.
AREAS WE SERVE: Cook, DuPage, Kane, Lake, and Will counties