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  • Estate Planning

    Anyone planning their estate will begin with the basic estate package: Last Will and Testament, Durable Power of Attorney for Health Care, Durable Power of Attorney for Property, an Illinois Living Will, and a HIPPA Medical Information Release. Even if you do not have a large estate a Trust added to your estate plan will allow you to protect your assets for minor family members or family members with special needs; to avoid or intentionally limit probate; and conduct Medicaid planning.

    Last Will and Testament

    Your Will is the legal document, or instrument, that allows you to legally choose whom to give your probate property at death, skipping generations if so desired. It is also the same document that allows you to name a legal guardian for your minor children in the event that you and your spouse die at the same time and to delay distribution to those minors. A Will may also be drafted to waive expensive surety costs during probate. Finally, your Will also allows you to name the executor to administer your estate. Without this document the Illinois Intestacy Statute determines your beneficiaries through the Probate Court and administers the estate through a probate attorney that the estate must pay. If you are adding a Trust to your estate plan a Pour-Over Will is necessary to protect all personal property up to $100,000 not named in the Trust, or residue of the estate, as well as the four previously named functions.

    Durable Power of Attorney for Health Care

    Your Durable Power of Attorney for Health Care is a document that allows you to appoint an Agent to make health care decisions for you if you are unable to make those decisions for yourself. This useful document spares your family the time and expense of having to go to court and have a Guardian appointed to make these decisions. It only goes into effect when your treating physician has deemed you incapacitated and therefore unable to make decisions for yourself. This document can also serve you if you later become permanently incapacitated. Your Agent can make health care decisions, again saving you and your family the time, cost and inconvenience of having to have a Guardian appointed by the court.

    Durable Power of Attorney for Property

    The Durable Power of Attorney for Property permits you to name an Agent to handle your property matters during your lifetime during periods of incapacity. It is strictly construed to the powers given to the Agent in the document. In Illinois, a Revocable Living Trust is more widely accepted by financial institutions and may be a better route to take for planning for incapacity. Both will allow you to save your family the time and expense of having to go to court and have a Guardian appointed to manage your financial matters.

    Illinois Living Will

    The Illinois Living Will is recognized in all 50 states as a means of strengthening your intention to not be kept on artificial means of life support when you are terminally ill, there is no hope of recovery and death is imminent. Some states refer to it as an Advanced Directive. This Living Will can only take effect if you have a qualified terminal condition as certified by two physicians. Alternatively, it may also serve to extend life-prolonging procedures, if that is your wish. It makes your end of life wishes clear to your Agent with your Durable Power of Attorney for Health Care in the event that you are incapacitated.

    HIPAA Medical Information Release

    This is a federal medical information privacy law document required under the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (HIPAA). It requires the express authorization to disclose information to persons other than the yourself. Preparing this in advance allows the Agent for the Durable Power of Attorney for Healthcare or a Guardian the authority to communicate with your health care provider in order to carry out your estate plan.

    Additional Document Considerations

    If you plan on contributing bodily organs or tissue, certain documents are necessary to assemble. Some people want their “final words” recorded along with remembrances; funeral and burial or cremation arrangements specified in writing; memorial service; and location of documents are other recorded documents some people choose to include in their estate planning documents.


    Using Trusts in an estate plan, you can meet such goals as asset protection, long-term care planning, estate tax planning, avoidance of Probate, minor of special needs planning and retirement planning.

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