Comprehensive Estate Plan
Our comprehensive estate plan solution will give you certainty over your legacy. Estate planning is a business tool, and it can help elevate your financial security and your family’s financial situation. After a comprehensive consultation and an evaluation of your financial background, we will be able to suggest a portfolio that will likely include a trust, a pourover will, a living will along with power of attorney documents. If you own a home, it will likely be a good idea for you to strongly consider a comprehensive estate plan. With these legal tools in your arsenal, your real estate, brokerage accounts, bank accounts and other possessions will likely be able to pass to your heirs without probate and perhaps with minimal or zero estate taxation. The comprehensive estate plan might seem costly on first pass, but when considered in relation to probate costs and fees along coupled with the virtuous benefits of the privacy and certainly afforded by creating an estate plan, the benefits should be clear. Creating an estate plan is so obviously the correct decision for so many people. Almost every probate matter could have been avoided with appropriate planning. And by engaging Wills & Trusts to create a flat fee estate plan, you are setting your legacy, your children and yourself up for success.
With our methodology, technology and experience, we can set up a comprehensive estate plan in person or we can construct and witness your trust, will and other documents remotely. We can even videotape your ceremony for posterity, and you can even leave a message to your heirs. For details on a remote estate plan, you can visit our remote estate plan page.
At Wills & Trusts, you can count on our attorneys to help you create a strong legal foundation for your future and your family’s future. If you have questions about a remote estate plan or a comprehensive estate plan, call us at 815.770.7242 for a no-obligation consultation with one of our attorneys.
Comprehensive planning starts by planning for the remainder of your life. You need to create a life plan that will protect your lifestyle and financial security and help you attain your goals during the rest of your lifetime.
Comprehensive estate planning allows you to:
- Ensure that your values will be respected and your intentions followed in the event of your illness
- Permit your trusted family members to manage finances and have access to needed health information if you are incapacitated;
- Protect your family from the cost of your health care and long-term care expenses;
- Provide for family members with special needs such as a disability;
- Avoid family disputes;
- Protect and provide for your family after you are gone.
There is never a better time to get started with your estate plan. Young professionals, new families and retired individuals all have need for an estate plan. I will help you include the most important elements based on your age, family situation, career and other factors.
A comprehensive estate plan should include the following documents, prepared by an attorney based on in-depth counseling which takes into account your particular family and financial situation:
A Living Trust can be used to hold legal title to and provide a mechanism to manage your property. You (and your spouse) are the Trustee(s) and beneficiaries of your trust during your lifetime. You also designate successor Trustees to carry out your instructions in case of death or incapacity. Unlike a will, a trust usually becomes effective immediately after incapacity or death. Your Living Trust is “revocable” which allows you to make changes and even to terminate it. One of the great benefits of a properly funded Living Trust is the fact that it will avoid or minimize the expense, delays and publicity associated with probate.
If you have a Living Trust-based estate plan, you also need a pour-over will. For those with minor children, the nomination of a guardian must be set forth in a will. The other major function of a pour-over will is that it allows the executor to transfer any assets owned by the decedent into the decedent’s trust so that they are distributed according to its terms.
A Will, also referred to as a Last Will and Testament, is primarily designed to transfer your assets according to your wishes. A Will also typically names someone to be your Executor, who is the person you designate to carry out your instructions. If you have minor children, you should also name a Guardian as well as alternate Guardians in case your first choice is unable or unwilling to serve. A Will only becomes effective upon your death, and after it is admitted by a probate court.
A Durable Power of Attorney for Property allows you to carry on your financial affairs in the event that you become disabled. Unless you have a properly drafted power of attorney, it may be necessary to apply to a court to have a guardian or conservator appointed to make decisions for you during a period of incapacitation. This guardianship process is time-consuming, expensive, emotionally draining and often costs thousands of dollars.
There are generally two types of durable powers of attorney: a present durable power of attorney in which the power is immediately transferred to your agent (also known as your attorney in fact); and a springing or future durable power of attorney that only comes into effect upon your subsequent disability as determined by your doctor. Anyone can be designated, most commonly your spouse or domestic partner, a trusted family member, or friend. Appointing a power of attorney assures that your wishes are carried out exactly as you want them, allows you to decide who will make decisions for you, and is effective immediately upon subsequent disability.
The law allows you to appoint someone you trust to decide about medical treatment options if you lose the ability to decide for yourself. You can do this by using a Durable Power of Attorney for Health Care or Health Care Proxy where you designate the person or persons to make such decisions on your behalf. You can allow your health care agent to decide about all health care or only about certain treatments. You may also give your agent instructions that he or she has to follow. Your agent can then ensure that health care professionals follow your wishes. Hospitals, doctors and other health care providers must follow your agent’s decisions as if they were your own.
A Living Will informs others of your preferred medical treatment should you become permanently unconscious, terminally ill, or otherwise unable to make or communicate decisions regarding treatment. In conjunction with other estate planning tools, it can bring peace of mind and security while avoiding unnecessary expense and delay in the event of future incapacity.
Some medical providers have refused to release information, even to spouses and adult children authorized by durable medical powers of attorney, on the grounds that the 1996 Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act, or HIPAA, prohibits such releases. In addition to the above documents, you should also sign a HIPAA authorization form that allows the release of medical information to your agents, your successor trustees, your family and other people whom you designate.
Especially important is planning for the possibility of your incapacity.
- Who should be authorized to step in and manage your finances if needed?
- Who should have access to your personal medical information?
- What financial and medical decisions should they be authorized to make
- What if you need long-term care?
- What can you do to make sure you are able to stay at home rather than in a nursing facility?
- What if you need care in an assisted living facility or nursing home?
Nursing home costs are staggering – now over $97,000 a year in Illinois for a semi-private room, with an average stay of 2 ½ years. This can quickly destroy your family’s financial security. With advance planning you can protect your family from this risk.
If you are married, a comprehensive estate plan will help ensure that your spouse will be able to live his or her remaining years with dignity and financial security. At your death, it can preserve an inheritance to pass along to your family in a manner that will not be squandered because of inexperience, illness, or a marriage gone bad.
Created with the help of a Wills Trusts attorney, a comprehensive estate plan will allow your assets to be best utilized for your benefit during your life and then ultimately protected and preserved for the benefit of your intended beneficiaries.