With so many of us homebound due to the social distancing measures put in place to slow the spread of COVID-19, many people are taking the opportunity to tackle their spring cleaning lists (we like Martha Stewart’s checklist!) or other projects around the home. We have one more catch-up task to add to your list – your estate plan.
Formalizing a will or trust, powers of attorney, and funeral wishes is something many of us put off until we have time – and that time never seems to come. This year, make it a priority and take advantage of your extra time at home to gather your documents, consult with an attorney, and check this very important task off your list.
Attorney Zach Townsend gave us a general overview of estate planning a few months ago – watch and keep reading to learn more.
Do I need a will?
This is one of the most common questions that we answer, and we believe everybody should have one. Without a formal will, you are leaving your estate and all of the decisions about what happens to it up to the state in which you live. Do you want the state of Illinois deciding what happens for you and your family? Probably not. Creating an estate plan is a very simple way to maintain control over very important decisions about your life and your legacy.
Do I need a Power of Attorney if I’m married?
Marriage gives some automatic benefits to your spouse to make decisions about your health and property, but a Power of Attorney for Healthcare and a Power of Attorney for Property will give you the ability to provide specific guidance about what you want done in the event that you are unable to make decisions for yourself. It will also provide you with what is called a “secondary agent”, which creates a backup plan and formalizes who will be making your healthcare and property decisions if your spouse passes or is incapacitated and not able to act as your agent when you are in need. This can remove the burden from your children and provide guidance and clarity to your loved ones in a time of great stress.
What do I need to prepare before meeting with the attorney to create my Estate Plan?
As you’re completing all of your spring cleaning projects and organizing your home, add this checklist to your to-dos.
Information about Your Family
We’ll need to know a lot of information about your successors and anybody else who may be part of your will. Make a simple list of everybody you want to remember (or exclude!) and we’ll help you make sure that you haven’t missed anybody.
Information about Your Insurance
Part of building your estate plan will be making sure that any insurance policies you have are still currently directing the benefit to the correct beneficiary, and to make sure that your loved ones know those policies exist and are able to find contact information when they need it.
Information about Your Assets and Debts
Do you own businesses? Property? Have retirement accounts? We’ll need to make sure that there are no loose ends in your estate plan and that everything that you own become part of the legacy that you are creating through an estate plan. Start jotting down every account so that we have the full picture.
Information about Your Personal Property
Make a simple list of things that are important to you for which you want to provide specific directions. Is it important to you that your daughter receive your wedding veil? We can help make sure that happens. Start taking notes over the next few days as you think of those things, and we’ll work on the list together.
Ideas to Organize Your Passwords, Contact Lists, and Account Information
Where will you keep your information so others can access your accounts after you are gone, or in order to take care of you if you are not able to make decisions for yourself? We’ll provide a framework to make this as easy as possible on your loved ones.
How much does estate planning cost?
We don’t have a one-size-fits-all price for estate planning because each individual’s needs differ. But we do offer a Free Initial Consultation with an attorney in order to determine exactly which documents are essential for you and your family. Please give us a call at 815-200-8802 and we’ll walk you through this process and take this pesky to-do off of your list.