Estate planning is important for people of all ages and in all income brackets. There are no financial barriers to creating an estate plan, though many Illinois residents may believe that they are only for the wealthy. In fact, anyone can create a basic estate plan that will protect their interests in the event they become incapacitated or pass away.
Preparing an estate plan can be complicated, and individuals who are ready to begin the process can work with trusted wills, trusts, and estate planning attorneys for guidance. This post will discuss some of the basic tools that can be included in estate plans, but readers should not interpret its contents as legal counsel or advice.
What does an estate plan do?
When a person dies without a plan in place for the disposition of their assets, their possessions can pass through the laws of intestacy for the state. Generally, these laws allow property to pass to a decedent’s closely related relatives, such as their spouse, children, parents and siblings. However, if closely related relatives do not survive the decedent, the decedent’s wealth can pass farther to more distant family members.
To prevent this, estate planning documents like wills allow individuals to explain what property they want to pass to which specific individuals. In addition to disposing of end-of-life property, an estate plan can set up guardianships for minor children and can provide guidance and authority to named parties to manage the financial and medical care of an individual in the event that they become incapacitated.
What are some common estate planning tools?
Wills, discussed above, are a common estate planning tool that can direct the disposition of property to intended beneficiaries. Trusts are useful legal devices that can shelter property from taxation when properly established by estate planners. Powers of attorney operate when planners are alive but unable to make their own medical, financial, and property-based decisions.
Estate plans can be complex or simple, depending on the needs of the individual planner. An estate planning attorney can advise their client on how best to approach the process to accomplish their end goals. Estate planning is for everyone and all can benefit from having basic estate planning tools in place.