Estate Planning FAQs
Proper estate planning can help you plan for your family’s future, providing you with the peace of mind that comes with knowing your wishes will be honored after you are gone. The attorneys at the law firm of Costigan & Wollrab, P.C., have extensive experience tailoring estate plans designed to suit your needs and goals. The following are some of the questions our lawyers are frequently asked about estate planning. Remember, everyone’s situation is unique and nothing can replace the type of advice you receive from meeting a lawyer in person. To schedule a consultation at our law offices in Bloomington, call 309-808-6067.
What is an estate plan?
At its most basic level, an estate plan allows you to pass on your assets and liabilities to other persons or institutions. However, an estate plan can encompass many tools, some of which are designed to minimize tax consequences, while others can direct your wishes for future medical care should you ever become incapacitated. The needs of each individual are different, which is why it is important to seek skilled legal counsel when considering an estate plan.
Is an estate plan really necessary?
Many people fail to see the need for estate planning. They may feel that they do not have enough assets to make it worth their while, or they may assume that their assets will automatically pass to their children. However, if a person dies without an estate plan in place, state law will determine how to distribute the assets of an estate and those assets may go to less than desirable individuals.
In addition, if a person dies without an estate plan, the estate must pass through probate. This is a public, court-supervised proceeding. Probate can be expensive and assets may be tied up for a long time before being distributed to the estate’s beneficiaries. The probate process also increases the risk of family infighting and possible litigation.
What estate planning tools should I consider?
Many people think that estate planning consists of drafting a will and nothing more. While a will is important to ensure that your assets pass on to your preferred beneficiaries, there are a number of other estate planning tools that should also be considered.
A trust can help ensure immediate transfer of your assets after you have passed on. It also enables you to name a trusted person who can manage your assets should you ever become incapacitated.
A financial power of attorney and health care power of attorney allows you to appoint someone you trust to manage your financial affairs and to make health care decisions on your behalf if you are ever unable to do so.
There are a number of other tools that should be considered based on the size of your asset and what you wish to accomplish with your estate plan.