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Lombard estate planning attorneyEstate planning is different from any other aspect of the law for one main reason: it focuses heavily on planning for a future the individual creating the estate plan may not be around for. The main purpose of utilizing estate planning tools such as a last will and testament or an advanced care directive is to make plans for end of life care and what happens to our assets after we pass away. While planning for the eventuality of death can be uncomfortable and sad, it is tremendously important. In order to ensure your final wishes will be fulfilled, estate lawyers must ask very challenging questions. However, many people find that preparing for these tough questions in advance makes the entire estate planning process easier. If you have not yet done so, take some time to consider the following questions.

When Do You Want Life Support Ended?

We often think of death as a black-and-white scenario, however it is not always clear when a person’s life is officially ended. For example, the highly-publicized Terri Schiavo case involved an individual in an irreversible, persistent vegetative state. If you become incapacitated like this, do you want doctors to use prolonged artificial life support or mechanical ventilation? When should "the plug be pulled"? An advanced directive or living will gives you the authority to choose what medical treatment you wish to be used around the end of your life. Drafting a document like this also saves your loved ones from having to make these incredibly personal decisions for you.

Who Should Raise Your Children If Both Parents Pass Away?

Many individuals incorrectly assume that estate planning is only necessary for the elderly. However, if you have children of any age, you should have estate planning tools which dictate guardianship in the event of a tragedy. If something happens to you and your child’s other parent, who should be the child’s new legal guardian? Unfortunately, parents who do not make this decision official through legally-binding estate planning documents may not have their wishes granted upon their death. When parents die without choosing a legal guardian for their minor children, the court chooses one or more individuals to become guardians based on the best interest of the child.

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Lombard estate planning attorneyWhen married people create an estate plan, both parties are generally involved. What can you do, though, if you want to get serious about planning your estate and your spouse is still reluctant to get on board? Nagging certainly will not do the trick, nor will threatening or begging. Still, there are some ways that you may be able to ensure your heirs do not get shortchanged. It may be helpful to learn a few strategies for dealing with a spouse who seems hesitant to get on board.

Do What You Can On Your Own

While it is best to have your spouse on your side before you create an estate plan, you may not ever be able to persuade them. This does not mean you cannot create an estate plan. In fact, there are strategies that you can use on your own to ensure your assets go to the right people and charities. Assets that are yours—solely yours—can be drafted into an estate plan, regardless of whether or not your spouse participates. Further, you can ensure you have named your power or attorney for health or financial decisions just in case you ever become incapacitated.

You should also ensure you have a complete log of any joint accounts, should you outlive your spouse and end up becoming the executor of their estate. This can help you avoid any last-minute confusion and may even expedite certain issues, even if they failed to create their own estate plan. Further, if you and your spouse should pass away together, your other heirs will still have the information they need to manage your joint assets.

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Lombard estate planning lawyersIf you have taken the time to create a will or any other instrument of estate planning, you are already better off than more than half of American adults. When drafting a will, most people consider most of their physical belongings along with investments or savings kept in the bank or at other financial institutions. Digital assets, however, often go overlooked, as many people do not even remember that they exist when they sit down to develop their estate plans. Some may not even know what digital assets are.

What Are Digital Assets?

Do you have a library of e-books from Amazon? What about a collection of songs from iTunes or apps from Google Play? These are some of the most common examples of digital assets. With the advancement of online technology, there are more types of digital assets today than ever before. In addition to e-books, programs, and music, digital assets also include pictures, data, visual designs, artwork, and online accounts for gaming, entertainment, and social media. If you have even one these types of assets—and since you are reading a blog right now, you probably do—it is important to develop a plan for dealing with them after your death.

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Posted on in Estate Planning

DuPage County estate planning lawyersFor many people, estate planning is a vague, nebulous process that involves a person accepting his or her own mortality. Even among those who understand the importance of planning ahead, there are a number of myths regarding estate planning that continue to abound. A comprehensive estate plan is crucial to protecting your assets and your family’s financial future, and the process can be complicated if you believe things that simply are not true. Over the next several posts on this blog, we will address some of the most common estate planning myths, beginning with:

Myth: Estate Planning Is for Older People

Young adults, in many cases, are still shaking off their adolescent concept of invincibility, but it can take a while for that to actually happen. By the time they reach their 30s and 40s, they may understand that bad things can occur but still see estate planning as not quite necessary yet.

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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. 

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