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What Is Estate Planning?

What Is an Estate?

Anyone who has property, money or life insurance has an "estate." The federal and state governments may have a say about what you can do with your estate. But no one can tell you what to do with your property--whether to keep it, sell it, exchange it or give it away. No one can tell you what to do with your money--whether to put it in a savings account, put it into another investment or hide it underneath your mattress. The problem with an estate is to keep it and then pass as much of it to your heirs or spouse.

Who Plans Your Estate?

You as the estate owner are the only person competent to decide what to do with your estate and only you know the following:

  • What risks you took to build up your estate?
  • What security measures do you want to take to preserve it?
  • How much you want available for your retirement?
  • How much you want available for the education of your children, grandchildren, or a favorite niece or nephew?
  • Who is going to get what and when are they going to get after you’re gone?

In order to realize your plan, you will require professional guidance. Attorneys who specialize in estate planning help you create the vehicles that best meet your estate needs. Attorneys are not there to serve any need or person other than you. Attorneys will not try to "sell" you on a product or on any investment.

When Should You Prepare Your Estate Plan?

Now! Estate planning deals with the living, not with the dead. At the time of death, it’s too late to plan, then others will be administering the estate according to the laws.

Why Do You Want to Prepare an Estate Plan?

The most obvious is that you want to determine who gets your assets after you’re gone. Without proper estate planning, Illinois, or your state of residence, decides who gets what and when. This may not agree with what you wanted to do with your estate.

Other Reasons to Engage in Estate Planning
  • To reduce, defer or avoid taxes.
  • To provide for your spouse or minor children after you’re gone.
  • To provide for the needs of a disabled adult.
  • To avoid probate; probate is the judicial process whereby the administration of a decedent’s estate is supervised by the courts.
  • To protect assets from creditors - very, very limited protection.
  • To prepare the most advantageous plan for charitable gifting.
  • To facilitate your financial planning.
What Type of Estate Plan Is Best for You?

There are several types of estate plans with something as simple as the type of form or title that you hold the property. If you hold title jointly, you have already planned what happens to that property at your death if you go first. If you want to plan more specifically, you can make a will. If you have more specific needs, a trust may be more appropriate. Trusts can be as simple or as complex as your estate plans. Your own estate plan should reflect your own unique needs and goals.

For more information contact one of the experienced lawyers available to serve your legal needs.