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DuPage County estate planning attorneyThe world of estate planning can become quite overwhelming for many people. Not only does estate planning force you to confront your own mortality, there is also a vast array of estate planning instruments for you to choose from. It can be difficult to know for sure what types of estate planning tools and documents will best allow you to reach your personal and financial goals. Two of the most common types of estate planning instruments are a last will and testament and a trust. While these tools can achieve similar goals, there are several importance differences between a will and a trust.

The Benefits of Drafting a Will

You may be surprised to know that only about 40 percent of Americans have a will, trust, or other estate planning document in place. When drafting a will, you must consider how your assets will be distributed to beneficiaries upon your death. Understandably, it can be very difficult for people to make plans for after they pass away. However, creating a will allows you to be in control of how your property is disseminated. You worked hard to earn the property that you have, so it is only fair that you should get to choose how it is distributed and who will receive it. Perhaps even more importantly, creating a will saves your surviving loved ones from the burden of having to guess how you would have wanted your property to be passed down.

Differences Between a Trust and a Will

A trust is similar to a will in that it allows you to dictate how your property is distributed to beneficiaries. However, a trust differs from a will in that it gives another party, called a trustee, the authority to manage your assets for the benefit of your beneficiaries. There are many different types of trusts which could benefit you and your family depending on your unique circumstances. These include a revocable trust, irrevocable trust, special needs trust, testamentary trust, charitable trust, and many more. Unlike wills, trusts are not required to go through probate, the court process which confirms the validity of the will and supervises the distribution of property. Probate is a state court proceeding which means that anyone can access information regarding the deceased person’s property, liabilities, beneficiaries, and more. Families who wish to keep this information private often use a trust in order to avoid probate.

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Lombard estate planning attorneyThinking about the end of your life is not an easy task, especially if you are still fairly young or currently in the prime of your life. Yet failing to do so can have serious consequences for you and those you love the most. Of course, you are not alone. In fact, statistics suggest that only about 40 percent of American adults have a valid will. Do not continue leaving your family unprotected. Learn how creating an estate plan can improve the future of your family and how you can create one that protects everyone’s best interests.

How Creating a Plan Can Protect You

People do not generally consider how an estate plan can help them, yet there are some clear benefits to having one. If, for example, you become incapacitated, a valid power of attorney can help ensure your wishes are followed. You can name someone you trust to make any medical decisions you have not already considered. It is also possible to assign someone to watch over your financial affairs. In short, an estate plan can protect and preserve your interests in the face of the unthinkable.

How Creating a Plan Can Protect Your Family

A valid and well-designed estate plan can protect your family, regardless of whether you have become incapacitated or have passed away. By having someone you trust assigned to your financial matters, your estate is preserved, even if you are incapacitated. By having a clearly defined will, you can save your loved ones the stress and worry of probate or long, drawn-out battles over who gets what. Your plan can also reduce the state and federal taxes that your family may have otherwise been responsible for paying.

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Lombard estate planning attorneysPeople can get uncomfortable when discussing the role finances play in how successful or fulfilling a marriage will be. However, the simple fact is that money is consistently found to be the number one cause of stress in marriages. Studies have even shown that couples arguing over finances is the top predictor of divorce. Marriage is a financial partnership as much as it is a romantic partnership. If you are tying the knot this summer or have recently wed, read on to learn the steps newlyweds should take to protect their financial future.

Update Beneficiary Designations

Getting married can be quite the challenging and chaotic undertaking. Between choosing the venue, inviting guests, hosting the reception, and finding places for all those wedding gifts, some newlywed couples forget that there are certain financial steps they should take as well. Many unmarried individuals have their parents chosen as beneficiaries on things like life insurance policies and retirement accounts. When those individuals get married, they will need to change the beneficiary to their new spouse—presuming they wish to do so, of course. If the beneficiary designation is not modified and a tragic accident occurs, the surviving spouse will not receive any of that life insurance policy's payout. After getting married, each spouse should review financial accounts such as 401ks, brokerage accounts, IRAs, and bank accounts and update beneficiary designations as needed.

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Lombard estate planning attorneyMany people realize at some point in their lives that they need to start planning for a time when they are not around. It could be the addition of a new baby in the family, retirement, or a medical crisis that spurs a person’s interest in estate planning. For those seeking the cheapest estate planning process possible, using online legal document services may seem like a good idea. Although some do use these types of products with success, relying on an online service to plan your final affairs can be a risky move.

Do Not Be Fooled By a Professional-Appearing Website

Online legal document services may appear to offer the same benefits as a law firm, but they do not. These types of services do not hire attorneys, but instead “document assistants”—individuals who do not have nearly the extensive education and training an attorney has. A document assistant cannot help you choose the best legal option for your unique estate circumstances or warn you if you are making a grave mistake while creating your plans. Because the people involved in these online service websites are not lawyers, they cannot give you legal advice of any kind. In fact, the websites cannot even promise that legal documents drafted though the service will be valid or that there will be a usable result from the time, effort, or money spent on these online services.

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