It is not unreasonable to devote significant thought to what your family will be left with after you die. If you want to ensure that your wishes are carried out and that your heirs receive what you want them to have, making an estate plan could be in your best interests.

By drafting a living trust, will, or another estate planning device, you could save your heirs both time and money. To learn more about the Lombard estate planning process, speak with an attorney today. Let an experienced estate planning lawyer assist you.

Defining an Estate Plan

Estate documents like wills or trusts document a person’s wishes for his or her assets and property after he or she passes. The person creating the documents may choose which of his or her relatives or friends receive certain items of property, or he or she might choose to give away his or her estate in portions to certain heirs.

Without an estate plan, the assets that a person owns upon death are passed to his or her heirs according to the laws of intestate succession, which are listed in 755 ILCS 5/2-1 through 2-5. In general, if a person passes intestate, meaning without a will, his or her property may be distributed to the deceased’s closest surviving relatives.

First Steps in Creating an Estate Plan

A person who wants to create an estate plan should begin by compiling a comprehensive list of his or her assets, debts, and account numbers and passwords. Maintaining a list like this in a safe place should help the executor of the estate find and deal with a person’s various accounts.

Another critical part of the estate planning process in Lombard is deciding what will happen if the testator—the person drafting a will—becomes incapacitated before death. Serious illnesses or injuries can happen unexpectedly, and an estate plan could help determine who should make medical or financial choices on the testator’s behalf if he or she is unable to do so personally.

While many people think of estate plans as a way to distribute property, they can also provide for the care of loved ones and children. An estate plan can name a guardian for minor children or disabled adults and can put asides assets for their care. Parents who have children from a previous relationship or marriage often use estate planning tools to ensure that some of their property goes to them rather than their current spouse.

Estate Planning Options

An individual who wants to create an estate plan has many different ways to transfer his or her assets. Depending on the testator’s financial situation, multiple estate planning documents may be required to accomplish the testator’s goals.

Last Will & Testament

A person’s will contains detailed instructions on how assets should be distributed after the testator’s death. It may also contain a guardianship provision for children.

Revocable Living Trust

A person may choose to put his or her estate into a revocable living trust, which would allow him or her to control assets while he or she is alive and determine how those assets would be transferred after the testator’s death.

Living Will

A living will provides instructions to physicians and other medical professionals about what should happen if an individual is terminally ill, in a vegetative state, or otherwise incapacitated. It might prohibit doctors from taking life-saving measures or provide guidance for family members about the type of end-of-life care the individual wants to receive.

Advanced Medical Directive and Financial Power of Attorney

An advanced medical directive, also known as a medical power of attorney or designation of health care surrogate, names another person to make medical decisions on behalf of the person creating the document. Similarly, a power of attorney gives another individual the power to control assets, pay bills, and otherwise manage a person’s financial matters if he or she becomes incapacitated.

Get Professional Help with the Lombard Estate Planning Process

A comprehensive estate plan may include any or all of these aforementioned documents, as well as beneficiary designations, transfer-on-death or payable-on-death agreements, and other types of asset-transferring vehicles. Figuring out how to best provide for your family after you die through all these mechanisms can be difficult without help.

If you want to learn more about your options during the Lombard estate planning process, contact an experienced trusts and estates lawyer today. A team of dedicated lawyers who value guidance, protection, and peace of mind could provide critical help in these situations.