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. Adding a Transfer On Death Instrument and keeping your beneficiaries up to date on your investments may be enough to help your estate avoid the necessity of Probate. A Living Trust can add another protective layer against the necessity of Probate, if your assets are properly moved into your trust’s name, or funded.
If you own out of state real estate properties and at least $100,000 in investments, in addition to owning a home, a Living Trust added to your estate plan will allow you these benefits, among others:
Your Will is the legal document, or instrument, that allows you to legally choose whom to give your probate property at death, skipping generations or avoiding certain family members, 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, by enabling the Executor to sign a Small Estate Affidavit and pour the probate assets into your trust.
Your 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. The Health Care Power of Attorney can make a big difference for you by having your agent informed on what you want done at the end of life or when you become incapacitated. I give clients two different POA’s for Health Care, one statutory and one developed by our Illinois NAELA Chapter which is much more thorough. I no longer provide Living Wills to clients because they are not as effective as a Practitioner’s Order for Life Sustaining Treatment (POLST) as an Advance Directive. These are only completed with you and your medical doctor and they are not necessarily DNR documents because you can select options to preserve your life regardless of consequences and cost. The POLST is particularly helpful for limiting medical intervention at the end of life, when it may not be medically ethical to delay your death, if you have provided your agent with your Advance care decisions.
The Durable Power of Attorney for Property permits you to name an Agent to handle your property matters during periods of incapacity, up until your death. My Powers of Attorney for Property are expanded to allow for your agent to protect your assets and do things an ordinary POA for Property cannot do. You really need to be able to trust this agent, or look to a professional Life Care agency to serve as your agent for an hourly rate. 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 may 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.
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 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.
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.