Estate planning involves creating a last will and other documents that determine the distribution of your property if you die or help protect you if you become incapacitated. If you are young and healthy, it can seem like an unnecessary chore to sit down and plan for the end of your life.
However, estate planning empowers you and protects you, as well as the people that matter the most to you. There are compelling reasons to invest in an estate plan now for when you need it later.
Your estate plan protects your dependent family members
You may have financial and legal responsibilities for the people you love. Your spouse may depend on you, as could children. Even your parents or a sibling with special needs could rely on you for support and income.
When you die, your estate plan ensures that your property goes to the people who matter the most to you. If you die without a last will, it will be the closeness of the relationship and not your wishes that dictates who gets what under Illinois law. Having an estate plan is particularly important when you don’t have legal or biological ties to the people in your inner circle.
Your estate plan protects you if you have health issues in the future
Does your spouse know which medical procedures you are okay with receiving and which ones violate your religion? Does your long-term partner have the legal authority to tell doctors what care to give you?
When you create a living will as part of your estate plan, you can leave instructions for others about your medical preferences. You also have the option of naming a person of your choice to make decisions and take action on your behalf.
An estate plan can help you avoid taxes and collection activity
The resources that you leave behind for the people you love when you die could wind up diminished by claims made by creditors, insurance programs or even taxing authorities.
Those with large estates might benefit from creating a trust to minimize tax issues, while those with fewer resources might want to use a trust in their estate plan to help them qualify for state aid or avoid collection activity. There could also be other tools that help people protect their legacy as they age.
The sooner you start working on a comprehensive estate plan, the longer you can enjoy the peace of mind that it offers you and the people you care about the most.