Estate planning needs to be tailored to each individual client’s needs and wants. You need an attorney who will listen to you, review your current assets, and work to develop a unique plan designed to meet your goals. Your goals may be accomplished with a well written will or a declaration of trust or a more complex planning tool like an irrevocable trust. A will is a formal written document how you would like your property divided and distributed upon your death. The Illinois Probate Act lists the requirements for a valid will. You must:
Be 18 years old or older
Be of sound mind
Have your wishes written
Sign the will and have two individuals not included in the will to witness your signature
Any changes you wish to make in your will, even minor ones, must be written on a separate document called a codicil. The signature and witness requirements are the same for a codicil as for a will. If you change your mind about your will, there are specific steps to follow in order to revoke the document. If you decide not to have a will or use some other estate planning tool, the Illinois Probate Act dictates how your estate will be divided. The probate court handling your estate will assign an administrator to settle the estate. In most cases, an estate going through probate will take at least 6 months.
One estate planning tool that allows you to avoid probate is a living trust. This document is an alternative to a Last Will and Testament. This type of estate tool enables you to avoid the cost of probating a will.
There are many estate planning tools available and each tool offers different advantages. Crafting Wills, Declarations of Trust, Living Trusts, Irrevocable Trust and other estate documents can be very complex. Be sure that you consult an experienced attorney who can listen to your needs and craft a document that meets these needs. Contact Attorney Timothy Henderson (312) 444-9400 to help you develop a comprehensive estate plan.