When Friends Are More Like Family: How To Include Friends In Your Estate Plan

  • Estate Planning
when friends are more like family | estate and probate legal group

When we think about who will care for us in our old age or who we want to leave our assets to – we often think of children or parents. But what happens if you don’t have kids or don’t want to leave your assets to your family? A recent NY Times article discussed how to leave your assets to your friends when you’re closer to them than you are to your relatives – when friends are more like family.

What Is Included In An Estate Plan?

An estate plan is a preparation of who will take care of you if you become incapacitated and how your assets will be distributed after you’re gone. Some main items that are normally included in an estate plan are:

  • A will 
  • A trust (when appropriate)
  • A healthcare directive
  • Power of attorney for property decisions
  • Power of attorney for healthcare decisions

As you can see, an estate plan includes more than only a will or trust. When thinking about your future, you want to consider who will help you if you become hospitalized or incapacitated. You also want to know who you will name as beneficiaries of your assets.

If you pass away without a will (die intestate), the courts will disperse your assets among your family. But what happens if you don’t have family or you don’t want them to receive your assets? This is not a huge problem, but certainly, an issue that you must address before it’s too late.

An estate planning attorney can help ensure your will or trust is up to date and enforceable (meaning less chance of it being contested), and your healthcare directive and power of attorney have the correct people named.

An Estate Plan When Friends Are More Like Family

Now that we know what is included in an estate plan, let’s look at how your friends work into that plan.

Your Will

A solid will can help ensure your assets are left to your named beneficiaries with less risk of the will being contested.

You may have assets that are not included in a will. These can include accounts such as:

  • 401(k) accounts
  • IRA accounts
  • life insurance

None of these accounts are listed in a will. Instead, each has its own named beneficiaries. You can set these up as ‘payable on death.’ Or you can set up assets, such as your home, to have ‘transfer on death‘ on the deed. Thus, naming your beneficiary without going through probate courts.

Healthcare Directive

An advanced healthcare directive is a legal document that informs your loved ones and doctors how you want your medical care, and end-of-life care handled when you can no longer make these decisions. Asking your dearest friends to care for you is a huge commitment on their part and one that should not be taken likely.

An estate planning attorney can help you set up a health care directive and power of attorney. This will establish who will help you when you need it the most.

DuPage County Estate Planning Attorney

Consulting an experienced estate attorney can give you protection and peace of mind. An Illinois estate planning lawyer can help you create an estate plan that considers your friends and loved ones. Contact the Estate & Probate Legal Group at 630-864-5835

AREAS WE SERVE: Cook, DuPage, Kane, Lake and Will counties