Properly planning one’s estate is essential to the financial future of your family. While a simple will that states your intentions after your death may seem like enough direction for a probate court, many unforeseen complications could arise in the absence of proper estate planning.

To maintain control over your assets after you die, you may need to appoint a trustee for your estate, change existing beneficiary structures on insurance policies, and even work to understand the laws in foreign countries. An attorney in Naperville could help to provide guidance in these essential matters and could even serve as an administrator of your estate after you pass away.

Working to Name a Qualified Trust Administrator

No matter how clear a person’s instructions may be in a will, trust, or other testamentary document, their wishes may not come to fruition with the skills of a competent trust administrator. According to 755 ILCS 5/6-13, there are minimum qualifications for trustees of an estate. This trustee must be at least 18 years old. That person must be a legal resident of the United States. Further, that trustee must not be a convicted felon and must be of sound mind to administer the estate.

However, just because a person is qualified under the minimum standards of the law does not mean that they are a solid choice to administer one’s estate. Under 760 ILCS 5/4, administrators have a duty to work toward the wishes of the testator to the best of their ability. Included in this responsibility are broad powers to:

  • Sell property
  • Disburse income
  • Manage stocks or other financial assets
  • Take out loans
  • Prosecute legal claims on behalf of the estate

A Naperville estate planning lawyer could help determine if a third-party meets these requirements or even serve as the trustee of a person’s estate.

Ensuring Your Money Goes Where You Want

Another major issue in estate planning is ensuring that your assets go to the proper people. While something as simple as a will that gives one’s entire estate to a single person may seem sufficient to meet this goal, in truth, people’s estates may be spread around to a large group of people.

It is essential that people understand the list of beneficiaries on their policies. These typically apply to insurance policies, pension programs, and retirement plans. All these policies require the holder to name primary beneficiaries who receive the benefits of the plans when they die. Additionally, most plans require a holder to name a secondary beneficiary who stands to inherit the assets if the primary beneficiary dies before them.

The effects of a proper beneficiary plan cannot be overstated. Indeed, the outcomes of insurance plan payouts, the transfer of pension income, and the ownership of annuity funds typically override any wishes present in a will or trust. For this reason, a Naperville estate lawyer could help to identify a person’s assets and to help identify and change any listed beneficiaries.

Avoid Issues of Estate Planning with the Help of an Attorney

The outcome of a person’s estate plan only becomes apparent after their death. This puts people in a unique position of having to specify their wishes while still alive and to anticipate any problems that may arise.

One common problem concerns the selection of a competent estate administrator. While the laws in the State are fairly loose when it comes to qualifying an administrator, a competent administrator must be able to meet your needs after your death with no further instruction from you.

Another issue with estate planning concerns beneficiaries outside of a will. Insurance plans and annuities all pass through probate after your death. However, these plans are separate contracts that payout according to which party is the listed beneficiary. This may conflict with your stated wishes in a will. A Naperville estate planning issues lawyer could help you to identify other potential concerns with your estate to ensure that your wishes are met after your death.