Top 3 Issues In Estate Planning to Consider
Estate planning is essential to ensure that your loved ones will be taken care of if you become seriously ill, incapacitated, or pass away. This can be especially important in Chicago as property values rise and fall. However, estate planning requires proper consideration of all potential issues that might arise to avoid a costly lawsuit that may drain your estate before your family can enjoy it. Here are some common estate planning issues to consider while preparing your family’s future:
The Rise of the Digital Estate
The 21st century has seen the rise of digital assets and the parallel ascension of the digital estate. Bitcoin and crypto currency can exceed the value of physical property and even certain social media accounts may be monetarily valuable. Additionally, our finances are now easiest to access online. Even if your digital property isn’t financially important, they may still hold fond memories. Digital photographs on social media or email accounts may impact how your family, friends, or even the public remembers you.
It may be important to have your executor or trustee keep a list of social media accounts and passwords on hand for safekeeping. A digital list is not advisable as the potential for hacked computers grows daily. A physical written list in a safety deposit box may be safest. However, you will need to update this list every time you update your password or account name.
Life Before Death
A good estate plan should also take into account certain circumstances where you are seriously ill or incapacitated but still alive. If an accident lives you paralyzed or in a coma, you may need an advanced healthcare directive or living will to guide your caregivers if you are unable to articulate your own healthcare wishes. Some of the most terrible estate planning fights occur when different family members disagree as to how to handle a loved one’s incapacitation. You can avoid this potentially heartbreaking fight by explicitly stating your wishes in writing before the need for such healthcare directives arises.
Backup Assets and Beneficiaries
The ultimate purpose of a will or trust is to distribute your property to your loved ones. However, there may be instances where the property is changed or gone. For example, you have sold the Honda car you intended for your eldest son beforehand and forgotten to update your will. Or maybe you intended to give your house to your daughter but the house burned down before you had an opportunity to revise your trust. In these instances, the trustee or executor will do his or her best to honor your intentions. If you exchanged your Honda for a Toyota, it may be as simple as just giving the Toyota instead of the Honda. In other circumstances though, the beneficiary might simply not receive a gift.
Similarly, beneficiaries may change before you can change your will or trust. A major life event, such as the birth of a new child, a marriage, or a divorce, will require a change in your estate plan. The death of a beneficiary may also demand a change in your estate plan. Of course, your executor or trustee should still follow your intent. If your trust divides your estate among your two children, but you had a third child after the trust was written, the trustee should divide the assets among all your children even if it didn’t explicitly include your youngest child as the intent to divide fairly among all children would appear to be evident in the trust.
Do I Need An Attorney For Estate Planning in Chicago?
If you are establishing an estate plan, you should consult with a skilled estate lawyer in Chicago. It is important to work with a local attorney in Chicago so that you receive the most accurate legal advice regarding your estate. A skilled estate lawyer can help you organize your estate, answer any of your questions, and help you determine what is essential to your estate planning based on your particular circumstances.