Estate Planning

So many Americans conceive estate planning or drafting a will as a concern only of the tremendously wealthy and of those with huge properties and big businesses. The truth is, estate planning can be done by anyone who has any type of precious belongings and assets, such as jewelry, furniture, a car, a house, investments, a pension plan, a life insurance or retirement savings. An asset does not have to be worth a huge sum of money for even a piece of jewelry, such as a ring or an old watch that has been passed on from many generations, can be an item incorporated in a will.

Basically, estate planning begins with writing a will. The testator (the person making the will) puts in the will everything that he/she would want to pass on to his/her spouse and child/children and which asset or thing of value goes to whom (sometimes a testator can also indicate a condition that an heir first needs to comply with to enable him/her to earn whatever is intended for him/her). The testator can also include in the will, his/her: chosen guardian for his/her minor child; health-care proxy (the person responsible in making medical decisions on his/her behalf in case he/she gets incapacitated); and, executor, that is, the person who will be in charge of the administration of his/her estate. This executor will also have to perform all of the testator’s wishes that are contained in the will, as well as settle all of the testator’s unpaid debts; only after all debts have been paid can the (remaining) assets be distributed to the inheritors.

Through estate planning, individuals are able to arrange the disposal of their assets and properties in ways that will greatly benefit their loved ones, maximize the value of their assets by having taxes and other expenses reduced, and eliminate doubts over the administration of a probate.

To keep finding excuses to be able to postpone the drafting of an estate plan, such as still being in the prime of health or age, so that no plan is actually drafted until the person’s death, will result to the state having control over the distribution of the assets and/or properties left behind – a state authority called the Law of Intestacy.

It is easy to have doubts on the necessity of drafting an estate plan and even if an individual may be willing to draft one, he/she may have questions regarding its legality and what should be its actual content. Legal professionals, such as Chicago estate planning lawyers, would be some of the best persons whose counsel and help will be of real value to anyone who has clarifications about estate planning before finally drafting one.

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