Do-it-Yourself Estate Planning Can be an Expensive Mistake

do-it-yourself-estate planning, Wheaton estate planning lawyerIllinois residents work hard so they can enjoy the fruits of their labor once they retire and so they are able to provide for their families after they have passed. They want to ensure that even when they are no longer here, their loved ones have the financial assets to improve their quality of life. However, several costly estate planning mistakes can be made, and they can seriously impact an estate plan.

One of the most common estate planning errors is the belief that it can be done without the assistance of a qualified estate planning attorney. There are a multitude of online companies that offer estate planning forms for people to download and prepare themselves. However, the problem with these "do-it-yourself" documents is that there are specific laws, in each state, that govern estate planning. Therefore, if a person is not cognizant of the details of these laws, the simple "do-it-yourself" will or trust can end up being very costly—more costly than what an attorney would have charged to do it correctly to begin with. This is especially true when drawing up trusts, which many people utilize in order to help alleviate the tax implications that can sometimes come along with inheriting money.

Trusts do play an important role in estate planning and various financial planners advise people to not leave a large sum of money to heirs. Instead, set up trusts for them. This can be especially helpful to those who have an adult child with serious emotional or substance abuse issues. Additionally, setting up a trust which includes provisions, and appointing someone as a trustee, will prevent the funds from being spent quickly and inappropriately.

People who own their own businesses often forget to include the businesses in their estate plans. However, there are important plans that a business owner should have in place in the event of his or her death. For example, will the owner's life insurance cover the estate taxes when he or she dies?

Another issue that may need to be addressed is how a business will be divided among an owner's children. What happens when one child works at the business and the others do not? Not having a firm plan in place can end up causing your children to take a hard financial hit, and may additionally cause a family feud if all of the siblings do not agree how the business should move forward.

Finally many people do not update their estate plans when major life events happen, such as marriage, divorce or death. This is especially true when there should be a change of beneficiaries to go along with these events.

If you need to draw up new estate plan documents, or update the ones you currently have in place, please contact an experienced Wheaton estate planning attorney today to discuss what options will work best for you and your family.

Your Estate Planning: Where There is a “Will,” There is a Way

your estate planning, Wheaton estate planning attorneyOne of the most important legal issues that people need to take care of is not one that the majority of us like to even think about—making a will. However, it is also the one legal issue that is always inevitable—no matter who you are.

Having a key plan in place can help to guarantee that your final wishes are carried out. It can also help prevent the infighting that often occurs in families when a loved one dies without a will in place. Even relatives with the most altruistic motives can find themselves locking horns over what Mom or Dad's wishes would have been. Moreover, a will prevents a third entity—namely the state of Illinois—from making the determination of where your assets will go.

As difficult as it may be to sit down and begin making those decisions, there are ways to help make the process go smoother. Several key tips that legal advisors offer include the following:

  1. Make a list of your assets and then decide who will get what. The list should include all retirement and other bank accounts, insurance policies, stocks and bonds, real estate and vehicles. Your list of assets should also include furniture and appliances, jewelry and collections. Many people are now including a list of online assets they own in their wills. If there are items that are of sentimental value (more than monetary), a will is a good place to express who should receive these items.
  2. Decide who will be the executor of your estate. This is the person who will be responsible for ensuring that the wishes in your will are carried out. Additionally, this person will be responsible for paying any debts or claims against the estate, collecting any assets due the estate, and taking care of property of the estate.
  3. If you are a parent with young children, it is critical to name a person who you want to be the guardian in the event of your death. This person will be responsible for raising and caring your children, as well as overseeing the property and assets left to the children in your will.
  4. It is also recommended that you leave a note with your will which includes instructions for funeral arrangements, as well as a list of account numbers and important document locations.

Contact an Illinois Estate Planning Attorney

When sitting down to write out your final wishes, one of the most important steps you can take is consulting with an experienced Wheaton estate planning attorney. Contact the Illinois law office of Stock, Carlson, Flynn & McGrath, LLC at 630-665-2500 to discuss your options today.

Understanding the Four Main Types of Life Insurance

equity index life insurance, life insurance, term life insurance, types of life insurance, universal life insurance, Wheaton estate planning attorney, whole life insurance, willsFor obvious reasons, purchasing life insurance is an emotionally charged decision. Still, it is an important move that could save loved ones from financial hardship. This is especially true if you are the main income earner within your family.

It is a smart idea to consult a legal professional to discuss any concerns you have related to life insurance, wills, and estate planning. An experienced estate lawyer can provide feedback and advice based on your particular circumstances.

One of the most common challenges that come with purchasing life insurance is knowing the difference between the various policy types. Below is a basic breakdown of the most common insurance plans.

Term Life Insurance

Term life insurance is generally the most affordable. These plans aim to provide a specific and reliable premium for a set amount of time. Options to increase the premium are usually available to clients who exceed the plan's duration.

Whole Life Insurance

According to CNN Money, these plans guarantee a specific cash amount at the time of death, and they usually require a steady payment plan that rarely changes. Given the guarantee, this plan ends up being a more expensive choice but can offer greater financial security should the worst happen.

Equity Index Life Insurance

A form of whole life insurance, equity index policies tie potential earnings to a specific market index. For many, this is an attractive option since, depending on the stock market at the time of death, one can accrue greater payouts than other plans would offer.

Universal Life Insurance

Universal life insurance plans have the benefit of providing a tax-free cash value, but they come at a higher cost than other policies. Many people find universal life insurance attractive since there is the option to adjust the premium each month. It is also possible to borrow against these types of policies, though this can be a risky decision.

When choosing a life insurance policy, the advice of a Wheaton estate planning attorney may prove invaluable. For legal services in Wheaton, contact the Illinois law office of Stock, Carlson, Flynn & McGrath, LLC today at 630-665-2500.