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Lombard estate planning attorneyOne of the primary objectives of the estate planning process is to make sure that your wishes regarding your property and assets are followed in the event of your death. While the estate planning lawyers at our firm can help you draft the appropriate documents and make the process as easy as possible, there will still be many decisions that are yours to make. For example, it can be tough to choose which people in your life will receive a portion of your estate—and how much they should receive! As you think about those you would like to include in your will or estate planning trusts, you may wish to consider:

Choosing Multiple Heirs

You have every legal right to simply name your spouse—or another important person, such as your child—as your sole heir and beneficiary. Just because you have the right to do so, however, does not mean you should. The purpose of your estate plan is to set things up for the future, which cannot be predicted. Naming just one heir will prove all but useless if something were to happen to that person. Then, your assets would suddenly become dependent on that individual’s estate planning choices. If you select several heirs, however, or set up contingency beneficiary levels, you will be able to retain more control over how your estate is distributed.

The Dynamics of Your Family

It is not really fair that you should have to think about how your family members will react to your estate planning decisions, but the reality is that you probably consider it. It may be tempting to have an “It won’t be my problem” attitude, but your choices are likely to affect how your family gets along in your absence. In your estate plan, you have the chance to promote unity or leave the door open for contentiousness. While you cannot necessarily predict emotional reactions, you can eliminate possible loopholes by taking reasonable steps ahead of time.

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DuPage County estate planning attorneysIf you were to ask your family members—including your spouse, children, grandchildren, or anyone else you wish to include—how your property should be distributed when you die, you would probably get a wide variety of responses. Some are likely to suggest that you divide your estate equally, though there are likely to be many versions of what “equal” means. Other family members may simply remind you that you have the right to make the decisions as you see fit.

Human emotion, however, is often unpredictable. Thus, the same people who tell you to do what you think is best may very well be the same ones who get upset when they find out that their inheritance is less than they expected to be. While you cannot control how your family will behave after your death, you can take steps to prepare them for that reality well in advance.

Decide What Is Important

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Posted on in Estate Planning

Lombard estate planning attorneyFor most people, the primary goal of estate planning is make sure that their wishes are carried out regarding their assets and property upon their death. Wills, trusts, and other instruments can help you do so, but the real challenge, in many cases, is figuring out exactly what you want for the future of your estate. An estate planning attorney cannot make such decisions for you, but we can give you some things to think about in making your choices.

Include a Variety of Heirs

Too often, people make the mistake of naming their spouse as the sole beneficiary of their estate. What if he or she outlives you? What will happen your estate plan then? You may also be tempted to leave everything you own to one of your children. As you develop your will, you must remember that you are looking toward the future, and the future is always full of uncertainty. If you choose a single beneficiary and something happens to him or her, the disposition of your estate could depend on that person’s estate planning decisions instead of your own.

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Lombard estate planning lawyerDo you have a written plan for what will happen to your assets and debts upon your death? Is there a documented contingency plan in place for your children in the event that something happens to you? If the answer is yes to either or both of these questions, you have made excellent decisions in being prepared for the unexpected. If the answer is no, it is time to start looking ahead. For those that do have an estate plan in place, it is very important to revisit it from time to time, checking to make sure that the terms of your plan continue to be applicable to your current state of affairs. Estate planning is not a “one-and-done” type of affair; it is an ongoing process that you must continue to address to a certain extent for the rest of your life.

More Assets and Wealth

Assuming that you are still of working age, you will likely continue to accumulate wealth each year. You may set additional savings aside for retirement, or you may invest what you are earning in the hopes of a substantial return. As your wealth and net worth grows, you may wish to amend your estate plan to properly account for your added assets. There may be new tools or tax advantages available to you now with your additional wealth that were not available at the time your estate plan was created.

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Lombard estate planning lawyerWhen a friend or family member chooses you as a beneficiary in his or her will or any of their estate planning documents, they did so with the strong conviction that you are trustworthy and capable of acting on behalf of their best interests. Much thought and care likely went into their decision, and whether you were aware of their choice or not, the moment they pass away or entrust you with a valuable asset, you automatically take on the responsibility of carrying out their wishes.

Potential Complications

In many cases, exercising your rights as a beneficiary is a smooth process. You may work easily with an executor, attorney, or family member, without experiencing a single hiccup along the way. Sadly, though, issues can arise under certain circumstances as you attempt to exercise your rights, spawning a number of frustrations not only for you but for anyone else involved in the process.

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Lombard estate planning attorneyChoosing a beneficiary for your will, trust, or life insurance policy might at first seem like a relatively simple task. For some, a specific person automatically comes to mind--someone they know, care for, and trust--and the decision is made. For others, though, the task can feel tedious. Depending on your financial circumstances, designating someone as beneficiary can place a significant amount of responsibility on the inheritor.

A Multi-Faceted Inheritance

Notice the word inheritor. Typically, the beneficiary of a will, trust, or life insurance policy is set to inherit something to their advantage. They receive benefits, profits, or funds from a particular account or policy, designated to them by whatever estate planning tool you choose to utilize. While this can certainly be a positive turn of events for the inheritor in the midst of your passing, it can still mean a lot of responsibility, as receiving funds can also mean receiving a burdensome responsibility.

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