No Children? Do Not Skip the Estate Planning Process

Joliet wills and trusts lawyersPeople who do not have children often assume that their assets will go directly to their spouse, so an estate plan is not needed. Unfortunately, nothing could be further from the truth. Learn why it is still important that you consider the future of your estate, even when you do not have children, and discover how an experienced wills and trusts lawyer can assist you with the development of your estate plan.

What Happens to Assets When You Do Not Have an Estate Plan?

When someone dies without a valid will or trust in place, their assets typically go to their spouse. Unfortunately, there are situations that could prevent them from obtaining the assets. Examples include an ex-spouse that is still listed as a beneficiary on a retirement plan and probate challenges from extended family members who were not intended beneficiaries.

If the individual does not have a spouse, the courts may assign a trustee to the estate until beneficiaries can be found. If there are multiple beneficiaries, the matter may go to probate. In this instance, the value of the estate may be depleted once it reaches the beneficiaries. Thankfully, both issues can be prevented with a well-crafted estate plan.

How an Estate Plan Protects Your Assets After Death

Rather than allowing your estate to be handled by the courts and the trustees it assigns, you can draft a comprehensive estate plan that outlines your final wishes. Doing this not only helps to eliminate any confusion about where your assets should go, but it also reduces the risk of some of the more common after-death estate issues, and it decreases the chances that your estate will go to probate.

You can also name alternative beneficiaries in your estate plan. This reduces the risk of your assets going to unintended parties if your primary beneficiary passes away before your estate can be distributed. An example of this happening would be if your spouse died shortly after you did. If neither of you had an estate plan, the assets might then go to your spouse's family, rather than your own.

Contact Our DuPage County Wills and Trusts Lawyers

At Stock, Carlson, Oldfield & McGrath, LLC, we work with individuals to help ensure that their wishes are carried after death. Dedicated and experienced, our DuPage County wills and trusts lawyers can assist you in creating a comprehensive estate plan that suits your needs. Schedule a personalized consultation to get started. Call 630-665-2500 today.


Three Simple Steps for Planning Your Estate

An organized estate is one of the most important gifts you can leave your survivors. Spending time now to plan and document your wishes can help your loved ones cope, and make things easier for them. Each state is different, but this simple checklist will help you get started with estate planning in Illinois.

  1. Estate planning in IllinoisPlan for life – Before you begin planning for your estate, you'll want to put together a few things that will help your family should you become ill. A durable power of attorney and a living will can help smooth the way for family should you become ill or incapacitated. You should also ensure that you are carrying the proper health insurance.
  2. Get organized - Organize your financial records and create a detailed list of financial accounts, loan payments, and other debts. File important documents in a safe place, and include instructions in your will telling survivors where to find them. Create a document listing your personal data, including your VA claim number (if you have one), as well as the names and phone numbers of family members who should be contacted.
  3. Plan your estate - Create a will, and include a letter of instruction telling survivors your wishes for what procedures you want followed regarding your funeral. Establish a trust or special-needs trust for children if necessary. Make arrangements for transferring any business assets you may have. Review your IRA, 401(k), and retirement plans for beneficiary benefits, and include instructions for what survivors need to do to get them. This will also need to be done for life insurance.

Of course, this list is very basic, and many of the documents mentioned should not be written on your own and will require a professional. If you are ready to begin planning your estate, contact a qualified Illinois estate planning attorney for assistance right away.