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estate planning, family future, Lombard estate planning attorneysAlthough it is a subject that many Americans would rather not think about, eventually our individual lives will end and our loved ones will inevitably be left with burdens, be it emotional, financial, or both. Decades ago, when someone passed away, there were no credit cards, families did not travel as much, and divorce was taboo. Everything that was left behind generally either went to the state or the family members left behind. With the growing complexity of family structure in conjunction with our spending habits, the need has arisen to secure a plan for after we die. Legal documents such as wills, trusts, and other estate planning measures can help protect the future of your loved ones after you pass.

Know the Difference

The best and most direct route of starting the process is to know which option is best for your current circumstances. It may be that none of the options are a completely perfect or it may mean that multiple options will help achieve your goals. No matter the case, it is necessary to understand the each option. 

Estate Planning: "Estate planning" is an umbrella term used to describe the preparation of your estate. Your estate is everything that belongs to you. This includes physical items (jewelry, home, vehicle, etc.), but also encompasses the items sometimes not planned for, such as other real estate property, checking and savings accounts, life insurance policies, and investments. Planning of this nature should also delve into what you would like to happen to your children if they are minors or what should happen to you if you are left unable to make decisions for yourself.

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Posted on in Estate Planning

Lombard estate planning lawyersEstate planning can be a difficult task for many individuals. Rare is the person who is excited about confronting his or her own mortality. The reality is that none of us will live forever, and estate planning affords us the opportunity to provide for our family members and loved ones well beyond our lifetime. Some elements of estate planning, however, are intended to take effect, if necessary, while you are still living so that your affairs can be properly managed, no matter what happens to you. Powers of Attorney are among the most important estate planning instruments, but they are often overlooked by those who are unfamiliar with their application.

Two Types

There are two different kinds of Powers of Attorney (POA): Power of Attorney for Property and Power of Attorney for Health Care. The two categories refer to the subject matter covered by the document, but both types give a trusted friend or family member the authority to make decisions for you in the event you are not able to make them for yourself. As their names imply, a POA for Property gives your chosen individual or entity—known as an agent—the power to make decisions regarding your finances, assets, and debts while a POA for Health Care appoints an agent to make medical and health-related decisions. By using POAs properly, you can help protect your family from uncertainty and unnecessary costs associated with guardianship proceedings.

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Lombard estate planning attorneyFollowing a divorce, the terms and provisions of your estate plan may become obsolete, especially if your ex-spouse factored prominently in your plan. While there are laws that help prevent estate planning issues after a divorce, it is still a good idea to take another look at your will, trusts, and any other estate planning tools to determine if modifications are needed.  

Revocable Trusts

A revocable or living trust is the most common instrument that requires review during or after a divorce. In a revocable trust, the holder of property (called a settlor) confers that property to a trustee to hold for a beneficiary while still retaining the right to take the property back. It is very common for either the trustee or the beneficiary to be a spouse.

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Lombard estate planning lawyersLast week, we started a discussion about common myths that many people believe about the process of estate planning. In that post, we talked about how it is never too early to begin estate planning and why probate is not always a terrible thing. Unfortunately, there are a number of other misconceptions that can cause unsuspecting individuals to make preventable mistakes as they draft their estate plans. Let’s look at a few more:

Myth: If I Die Without a Will, the State Will Take Everything

While there is no question that estate planning is important, it is not uncommon for some people to develop a plan only out of fear. Such individuals often believe that if they do not draft a will or create an estate plan, their property will be seized by the government and not distributed to their family members.

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Posted on in Estate Planning

Lombard estate planning lawyerAs you look ahead to a time when you will no longer be around to care for your loved ones, you have probably given a great deal of thought to those who rely on you the most. You may have a son or daughter or even a sibling with a disability or other types of special needs who is unable to care for him- or herself. While you may have been able to care for a loved one with special needs during your lifetime, providing for him or her after your death could present significant challenges and may require you to establish a special needs trust in your loved one’s name.

What Is a Special Needs Trust

A special needs trust, sometimes called a supplemental needs trust, is a tool that can allow the assets placed under the trust to be used for the care of a person with a disability or special needs without affecting his or her eligibility for government assistance programs. Special needs trusts are often funded by large, lump-sum settlements or through gifts and inheritances. Without a properly-drafted special needs trust, leaving part of your estate to a loved one with disabilities could potential disrupt the delicate balance of government aid programs upon which he or she relies.

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