Estate planning is the process of arranging for a person’s property to be properly handled and transferred in the event a person loses his/her mental capacity or when he/she passes away. Estate planning can range from being very simple to very complex. For the average person, the following are the most common estate planning tools in place in Illinois today:
While everyone could likely benefit from at least having a Will and Powers of Attorney, estate planning is not a one-size-fits-all process. Some estates are insolvent (more debt than assets to pay it), some estates are modest (under $500,000.00), and some estates are very large and complex (assets exceeding $5 million, or complicated asset/debt issues in estate). Thus, using a simple do-it-yourself Will kit from a store or an online site can lead to some devastating results. It is important to have an attorney at least oversee the process as estate planning can be deceptively complicated.
In looking at the details of what estate planning can do, a proper estate plan can help an individual name a guardian for his/her minor children, make specific gifts at the time of his/her death, and name someone to represent his/her estate in Court. Estate planning also encompasses naming an individual to serve as an Agent under a Power of Attorney. Ultimately, a well-drafted estate plan will give the individual more peace of mind knowing that his/her estate will be handled competently and efficiently at death, or in the event of mental incapacity.