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Lombard estate planning attorneyMany people do not realize it, but taking steps to prevent identity theft is an important part of estate planning. Sadly, more and more criminals are taking advantage of grieving families by stealing the identities of deceased individuals. An identity thief can use a deceased person’s name and personal information to obtain and use credit cards that are in the deceased person’s name, apply for loans, falsify tax returns, and more. If your loved one’s identity is stolen after they pass away, you will be burdened with resolving the issue with law enforcement and financial institutions. Follow these steps to minimize the chances of your loved one’s identity being stolen after they pass away.

Tip #1: Notify Interested Financial Companies of the Death

When a loved one dies, it is usually up to the executor of the estate to contact financial institutions and close accounts. It is important to do this as soon as possible. Unscrupulous individuals can take advantage of the window of time between when an individual dies and when the decedent’s finances are settled. Contact every bank that your loved one had an account with and notify them that your loved one has passed away. You should notify the banks even if the deceased person’s spouse or another person is still listed on the accounts. You will also need to notify any lenders, mortgage companies, or investment companies your loved one had business with.

Tip #2: Close Credit Cards and Contact the Major Credit Bureaus

You will need to compile a list of all of your loved one’s credit card accounts so that you can close them. Looking through their purse or wallet can give you some information, but a better idea may be to request a copy of their credit report. You should also continue to monitor their credit report for suspicious activity. The Social Security Administration (SSA) will eventually notify the credit bureaus of your loved one’s passing but doing so yourself may expedite the process and help prevent an identity thief from opening a new line of credit under your loved one’s name. Sometimes a funeral director will contact the SSA on behalf of a family, but contacting the SSA, as well as the Internal Revenue Service, is ultimately the surviving family member’s responsibility.

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Lombard estate planning attorneysWhen the average person thinks about the concept of estate planning, they tend to think about wills, trust funds, inheritances, and other methods for passing assets down to the next generation. While these images are not really incorrect, they do not tell the whole estate planning story. In fact, there are many good reasons to create an estate plan that have almost nothing to do with possessions or money.  With this in mind, estate planning is an important consideration for any family, regardless of their wealth or overall net worth.

Reason 1: Privacy Considerations

Unless you plan ahead, Illinois law will likely require your estate to go through probate. Probate is the legal process through which an estate is settled when there are no alternative plans for doing so, and the process can be unpredictable, time-consuming, and cumbersome. You should also know that probate proceedings are usually matters of public record, which means that your affairs are available to be reviewed by the public at large. Through estate planning, you can minimize the effects of probate or even avoid it completely, thereby keeping your family’s personal matters private.

Reason 2: Minor Children

If something were to happen to you tomorrow, who would care for your children? If you answered, “My spouse,” let’s take the hypothetical situation a step further. If something were to happen to you AND your spouse tomorrow, who would care for your children? While you might have an idea regarding which family members might step up to help, it is important to have plans for your children’s care recorded in your estate plan.

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Lombard estate planning lawyerWhen most people think about estate planning, they think of wills, inheritances, and other ways to pass down a person’s property and assets to their heirs. Such an image is not necessarily wrong, but it certainly does not tell the whole the story. There are a number of reasons for estate planning that have very little to do with money and possessions, which makes the process important for every family, regardless of wealth or net worth.

1. Control Over Privacy

Without proper planning, your estate will be required to go through the process of probate, which is often long, cumbersome, and unpredictable. Probate is also a matter of public record, meaning your family’s affairs are made available to the general public. By taking steps in advance, you can limit the impact of the probate process and possibly avoid it altogether. In doing so, you can keep your personal details within your chosen circle.

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