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Estate Planning Documents

Published by Mark Brynteson

Estate planning Attorney  Mark D. Brynteson, uses his 35 years of legal experience to help you understand the various elements of an estate plan. Furthermore, he can help you determine which of them are most important for you.  Attorney Brynteson is committed to serving people in Northern Illinois, including Belvidere, Rockford, DeKalb and Sycamore.

What Are the Five Core Estate Planning Documents?

  • Wills and/or Trust
  • Durable (Financial) Power of Attorney
  • Medical or Healthcare Power of Attorney
  • Living Will and Advance Directives for Medical Decisions
  • Beneficiary Designations.

What are the basic steps in the estate planning process?

  1. Inventory your stuff.
  2. Account for your family’s needs.
  3. Establish your directives.
  4. Review your beneficiaries.
  5. Note your state’s estate tax laws.
  6. Weigh the value of professional help.
  7. Plan to reassess on a regular basis.

Important Estate Planning Documents 

The estate planning documents that are normally a part of any estate plan include the following:

Last Will and Testament

The function of a will is to designate (1) who is gets your assets after death; (2) who will be responsible for distributing those assets to your heirs; and (3) who will care for your minor children, if any. However, without a will, the above questions will be answered by Illinois law and the probate courts. Unfortunately, the probate process for intestate estates (estates without a will) is extremely time-consuming and causes awkwardness and hardship for those involved. Although wills usually pass through probate in most cases, the creation of even a simple will makes life much easier for your loved ones and ensures that your property is distributed according to your wishes.

 Revocable Living Trusts

Revocable Living Trusts have become the estate planning tool of choice due to their flexibility and ability to avoid the probate process. A living trust is a document in which you (the “grantor”) transfer your property to a “trustee” for the benefit of others (the “beneficiaries”). Usually, the initial trustee and initial beneficiary are the same person. However, after the death of the grantor, the trust agreement will determine how your property is managed and divided up without the involvement of the probate court.

Powers of Attorney for Health Care and for Property

If you become incapacitated, Powers of Attorney allow a person of your choosing to make your health care and financial decisions. Moreover, Powers of Attorney clarify your wishes concerning your healthcare and finances before they arise. They are an essential component of any estate plan.

Additionally, you may want to consider more advanced estate planning techniques for complex estates. These include gift trusts, family limited partnerships, qualified personal residence trusts (QPRT’s), etc. Furthermore, it is essential that professionals, and others in high-liability careers, safeguard their assets to ensure that they are protected from future litigation claims or other creditors.

In closing, there are a great deal of important documents available to protect your assets and your family’s future. We invite you to reach out to Brynteson Law for more detailed information.

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