In Chicago, Illinois, "estate planning" refers to the process by which a person makes arrangements related to their property after their death. It can (and should) also include personal issues that might come up immediately before and after a person's death.
The creation of a will (the document laying out what is to be done with your property after your death) is an essential element of an estate plan, but it is usually not the only element. There are many other critical things that most estate plans should include.
A will is rarely the only aspect of a comprehensive estate plan. Most people have very strong preferences about their end-of-life care, particularly when, and under what circumstances, they would want to be taken off life support, if that every happens. These wishes should be made in writing, and discussed with family. Furthermore, preferences on organ donation and funeral arrangements should also be made clear.
If you have young children, it is absolutely crucial that you make arrangements for their care, as well as their custody. Obviously, if you want someone specific to take custody of them in the event something happens, you need to discuss the matter with them, to ensure that they are actually able and willing to care for them.
What Type of Estate Plan Do I Need in Chicago, Illinois?
The answer to this question varies on your individual needs, your priorities, your health, and the size and nature of your estate.
For example, if you're unmarried, and in your early 20's, estate planning is probably not the most critical thing in your life. However, if you're seriously ill, and/or unusually wealthy, estate planning might be a priority for you.
If you have a life partner in Chicago, Illinois, but aren't married to him or her, estate planning is crucial. If you want your partner to have most of the same rights and responsibilities as a spouse, it's usually possible with good estate planning. You should grant your partner power of attorney, so they can make decisions for you in case you become incapacitated. Furthermore, you should name your partner as a beneficiary in your will, because, unlike a spouse, a life partner will not automatically inherit your property if you die without a will.
If you are elderly, and have a large amount of assets in Chicago, Illinois, estate planning may be more critical at this stage of your life than any other. While estate planning deals with some morbid and unpleasant subjects (requiring us to confront the reality of our own mortality), it is crucial if you wish to live your life secure in the knowledge that your loved ones will be provided for to the extent that your assets allow.
Do I Need a Chicago, Illinois Estate Planning Attorney?
Because estate planning can be a perplexing process, the expertise of a good lawyer in Chicago, Illinois who specializes in wills, trusts, and estates can make the process a great deal easier.