Creating an estate plan is one of the most important things you can do for your loved ones, as well as for your own peace of mind. However, the sad truth is that estate planning is also one of the things many people dread. Consequently, they put off dealing with it until much later in life, if indeed they deal with it at all.
Whatever your age, at Crosby & Crosby we believe it’s never too early to begin planning for the eventualities of the future, but it can be too late. As Benjamin Franklin once wisely said, “By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail.”
What’s an Estate Plan, and Why Is It Important?
Essentially, an estate plan is a collection of legal documents detailing how your assets are distributed upon your death, as well as how you want others to handle important health and financial decisions if you’re unable to make those decisions yourself.
As to its importance, as Rockford, IL estate planning lawyers, we can think of at least four reasons why estate planning is essential. First, estate planning allows you to choose those to whom you will leave your assets upon your passing. Second, if there are minor children, you can name the guardian for them. Third, estate planning is a means of reducing taxes on what you have left behind.
Finally, and perhaps most importantly, having a carefully arranged estate plan is a means of avoiding family strife and acrimonious, long-drawn-out legal battles after you are gone.
Our Estate Planning Services
At Crosby & Crosby, our estate planning services include the following.
Your will is essentially the cornerstone of your estate plan, and among other things it designates your beneficiaries, the executor of your estate, and the guardian of minor children, if any.
Revocable Living Trusts
In recent years, revocable living trusts have gained in popularity and for good reason. In many situations, a trust is a flexible and efficient tool for managing your property while still alive – including periods when you may be incapacitated – as well as managing and disposing of property after your death. Another advantage is that a living trust allows you to avoid probate on any property you own.
It is called a “living trust” because it becomes effective during your lifetime, as opposed to a will that takes effect after your passing.
Depending on the size of your estate, it may be subject to both federal and Illinois taxes, and we can work with you to determine your exposure and explain your options.
Durable Power of Attorney for Health Care (DPAHC)
This is easily one of the most important documents you will ever sign. In your DPAHC, you designate an agent, as well as a successor agent, to make a variety of health decisions for you, if you’re unable to make them yourself.
The choice of these individuals is of crucial importance, and your choices should be very carefully considered. If you have not executed a DPAHC, the laws of Illinois will control the order of preference for decision making on your behalf, and this situation can easily lead to family conflicts.
Charitable Donations and Planning
Charitable giving can be used as a means to avoid income and estate taxes, as well as a means for continuing a family legacy.
Gift Tax and Planning
While gifting can be used as a means for estate reductions, there are strict IRS rules and regulations that must be followed. Hence, it is highly advisable that you employ the services of experienced estate planning attorneys to avoid running afoul of the IRS.
Rockford, Illinois Estate Planning Lawyers at Your Service
Estate planning and administration are one of our many specialties at the law firm of Crosby & Crosby, and we will be with you and your successors during every step of this process, from the initial drafting of your will or trust, until the closing of the estate.
Additionally, if you created an estate years ago, your goals may have changed in the ensuing years. In that case, we will be glad to review your original documents and work with you in making any desired changes.
Whatever your estate planning needs may be, the family law attorneys at Crosby & Crosby are here for you, and we urge you to contact our office to schedule your initial free consultation.