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Illinois Estate Planning Basics

 Posted on April 12, 2012 in Estate Planning

Estate planning is a relatively broad term used to cover various legal actions and arrangements that can be taken to manage a person's property and assets, and establish their wishes, following their death. Estate planning commonly includes the preparation of Wills, Trusts, and Powers of Attorney. Depending on a person's specific situation and the size of their estate, it could also include additional actions such as tax planning, business succession planning, and establishing their wishes for charitable giving.

Ideally, Illinois residents should take the time to prepare an estate plan. This ensures that their assets are distributed according to their wishes, and can help minimize the stress and hassle put upon their loved ones following their death. When someoneĀ  in Illinois dies, their estate will proceed through Illinois Probate Court, and the Court will decide how the estate is handled. This can be a exceptionally lengthy and stressful process when the decedent did not prepare a will or other estate planning documents.

Additionally, any good estate plan should include documents regarding a person's healthcare wishes, should they become unable to communicate them due to illness or injury. Living Wills and Advance Directives indicate instructions regarding the use of life-sustaining medical treatment, organ donation, and other aspects of their medical care.

Illinois estate plans should also include Powers of Attorney (POA,) which appoint someone else to make decisions for a person, should they be unable to do so themselves. This usually includes both a Health Care POA and Financial POA, and sometimes others, such as a Business POA.

While there are "do it yourself" estate planning kits, estate planning is generally not something to be handled on your own. Each state has its own estate planning laws, and even a small mistake could result in a document being declared invalid, causing major problems in the administration of the estate. Chicago residents should contact an experienced DuPage County estate planning attorney for assistance in preparing their estate plan.

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