Illinois Wills and Powers of Attorney
DuPage County Estate Planning Lawyers
Wills and powers of attorney are important elements of a comprehensive estate plan. A will helps ensure that your loved ones are provided for after your death. A power of attorney allows a trusted friend or family member to manage your affairs if you are unable. Neglecting these protections can mean wasted time, unnecessary expense, and even property loss. Still, most Americans don’t have either.
What is a Will?
A will, formally known as a last will and testament, is a legal document that provides instruction on how assets should be distributed after death. These instructions may be as simple as a designation that the whole estate should pass to a single person, or may contain detailed instructions for disposition of specific property.
No matter how simple or complicated the terms of the will, the same formal requirements apply. A will that isn’t properly drafted or executed may be deemed invalid, leaving loved ones unprotected. That’s one reason it can be risky to try to do it yourself. Another is that people who aren’t familiar with the estate planning process often overlook assets or make mistakes that could hurt loved ones after they’re gone.
The experienced estate planning attorneys at Roberts & Caruso understand that most people aren’t experts in estate planning, and that things slip through the cracks. Years of experience have taught us to anticipate the most common oversights and errors to help make sure your loved ones are protected.
When you consult with one of our attorneys about a will, we’ll ask targeted questions to help you cover all the bases and avoid common estate planning pitfalls. We’ll also talk with you about how to choose an executor, and how to organize your documentation to help ensure that nothing is overlooked after your passing.
What Happens When You Die Without a Will?
When an Illinois resident dies without a will or other legal provisions for the passing of property, assets are distributed according to the Illinois law of intestate succession. The law is intended to make sure those closest to the deceased are provided for, but of course every family structure is different. The state’s best guess won’t necessarily match up with what you want to happen to your property.
Under the Illinois law of intestate succession, half of the estate goes to the surviving spouse and half to descendants. Stepchildren receive nothing, nor do long-time unmarried life partners. If there is no surviving spouse and no descendants, those closest by blood lines are next in line. Of course, that doesn’t always match up with those who were closest in life. If there are no surviving kin, the estate passes to the county.
In short, if you don’t create a will, living trust, or other means of passing property after your death, the result may come as an unpleasant surprise to those closest to you.
Fortunately, you don’t have to sort it out alone. The experienced estate planning attorneys at Roberts & Caruso offer free consultations to help you get started.
Illinois Powers of Attorney
Many people think of estate planning as planning for what happens after you pass away. But, planning for your heirs and beneficiaries is just one aspect of estate planning. Other elements protect you and your property during your lifetime.
The purpose of an Illinois power of attorney is to make sure someone you trust has the authority to act on your behalf if you are unable to make your own decisions–for instance, if you have been in an accident and are unconscious, or if you are mentally incapacitated. You may grant power of attorney to a single person, or you may choose to appoint a different person for each of these important roles:
Health Care Powers of Attorney: A health care power of attorney authorizes another person to make medical decisions for you if you are unable to do so yourself. This type of power of attorney protects you by ensuring that someone you trust and who knows your wishes is empowered to decide for you. Granting a health care power of attorney to a single person and making sure that person understands your priorities can also cut down on family stress and conflict during a difficult time.
Financial Powers of Attorney: Another type of power of attorney enables your appointed representative to manage your financial affairs, including your assets, if you are unable to do so. Without this authorization, there may be significant hurdles for family members attempting to take care of tasks as simple as making your mortgage payments.
Talk to an Illinois Estate Planning Attorney
The components of an effective Illinois estate plan vary depending on a variety of factors, including the type of property you own, whether you are married, and whether you have minor children. At Roberts & Caruso we know estate planning can be overwhelming. We also know how important it is for you and your family that you get it right. That’s why we offer free consultations to help people in and around DuPage County make the right arrangements for their families.
You can schedule yours right now by calling 630-510-1800 or filling out the quick contact form on this site.