Estate Planning

While many people have discovered the profitable advantages of estate planning in providing for loved ones after death, many Chicago estate planning clients are surprised to learn that an estate plan can also protect them during their lifetime.

The estate planning package usually includes a living trust, a pour-over will, healthcare appointment, power of attorney, and living will. With a living trust, ownership of assets is transferred to the trust, and controlled by a trustee. Most clients serve as their own trustee, thereby retaining control of the property. However, the trust document names one or more successor trustees who may take control upon the death, resignation or disability of the original trustee.

The pour-over will handles assets not already transferred into the trust, such as personal property. Both the trust and will serve to avoid the expense and delay of probate proceedings, and allow a more private means of transferring property to chosen beneficiaries. Probate costs can reach thousands of dollars in both legal and executor fees, and the process can take months to complete. Property transfers are a matter of public record, which can lead to victimization of heirs, family embarrassments, or further legal entanglements.

The healthcare appointment allows you to choose who will control your healthcare decisions if you are unable to do so. In an emergency situation, the appointed representative will have the legal authority to obtain immediate care. While other family members may disagree with the representative’s decisions, that disagreement will not delay needed treatment.

The durable power of attorney also allows you to specify who is to make decisions on non-medical matters in the event of your disability. This usually includes financial and business matters, such as writing checks on your account to pay your bills and expenses. If you have minor children, the power of attorney can also grant authority to make educational and health decisions for the children.

Finally, the living will allows you to set forth your wishes in a life-threatening situation. What level of life support or heroic measures do you want? Many doctors and hospitals routinely request copies of living wills in order to make sure that your wishes are followed, even if you become unable to communicate.

A complete Chicago estate planning package can help you face an uncertain future with the certainty that your person and property will be protected to the best of your ability. Extended family dynamics often result in bitter disputes over care, money, and property when a family member suffers from old age or disability. You can avoid those disputes by consulting a knowledgeable attorney for your Chicago estate planning package.

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