Creating an estate plan is a smart decision that could give you peace of mind about what happens to your family and your assets after you pass away. A successful estate plan avoids the probate process and transfers assets to heirs without needing to go to court.

However, not every estate plan is successful, and there are many issues with estate planning in Lombard which can derail even the most carefully crafted planning documents. If you want to create a will, trust, or another document, it may be a good idea to schedule an appointment with an experienced estate planning attorney sooner rather than later.

How Probate May Complicate Estate Planning

One of the main reasons people create estate plans is to avoid the probate process. When there is a problem with an estate planning document, the family of the deceased have to go to court and have the estate administered by a judge.

Probate cases have the potential to be lengthy, and the heirs of the deceased may not have access to any of the money or property that was bequeathed to them until the probate case is completed. As a result, the heirs may have to spend their own money paying for expenses like funeral costs or attorneys’ fees until the estate is settled.

Avoiding probate is an excellent way to make sure the deceased’s assets transfer directly to the intended person without interference from a court. That being said, several issues in the estate planning process could potentially derail these intentions.

Outdated Beneficiary Designations

Many people make out their will or set up a trust several years—if not decades—before they pass. As such, one of the most common problems that arise after a person passes away is outdated beneficiary information.

For instance, if a person’s beneficiaries passes before he or she does, the estate may have to go through probate to determine who should receive those assets. Likewise, if a person divorces and no longer wishes for his or her spouse to inherit assets like IRAs, 401(k)s, and other investment accounts, it is crucial to update the beneficiary designations accordingly.

Failure to Fund a Trust

Setting up a revocable living trust is a common way to maintain control of assets during a person’s lifetime and have those assets transferred automatically to a beneficiary on death. However, assets in a trust may only be distributed if they were properly added to the formal list of assets to be distributed, also known as a trust corpus.

Some property becomes part of a trust by virtue of the trust document itself. Other assets, like real estate, require the trust owner to legally transfer title to the trust. If this step is not taken, the asset would not be included in the trust corpus and may have to go through probate.

Changed Family Circumstances

The changing of family circumstances is a frequent issue with estate planning in Lombard. It is not uncommon for a person to create a will or trust and then not update it for several years. Many changes in circumstances might happen during this time, so it is vital to make sure the estate planning documents reflect a person’s up-to-date wishes regarding his or her family.

When a person marries, divorces, or has children, his or her estate planning documents need to be updated. If a person forgets to add a new grandchild or fails to take his or her ex-spouse out of a will, it may cause problems among surviving family members.

Too Many or Too Few Instructions

Finally, people planning their estate should be careful not to add too many or too few instructions. Placing too many requirements on a bequest could cause unnecessary hassle for the person receiving the property, and the person inheriting may have to petition the probate court for relief from the requirements.

On the opposite end, it is also common for people to not update their list of assets and property before they die and leave no directions on how to distribute their remaining property. Estate planning attorneys might add a residual clause, which could cover any property that was not included in the estate documents and plan for their distribution.

Avoid Issues with Estate Planning in Lombard by Hiring a Seasoned Attorney

A successful estate plan could be a great benefit to your surviving family members, but creating an effective plan usually requires more than downloading a form off of the internet. By hiring an estate planning attorney who values guidance, protection, and peace of mind, you could circumvent these pitfalls when planning your estate. Schedule a consultation today to learn more about issues with estate planning in Lombard and how you could work to avoid them.