Leonard F. Berg, Attorney at Law
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Should you consider estate planning?

For many people, having an estate plan can be a significant benefit. Of course, you may think that you do not need a plan because you do not have substantial assets. Still, estate planning can have benefits for you and your family members.

Estate plans can go far beyond simply addressing who should get what after your death, but that area remains a main concern for most parties. Even if you feel you do not have a great deal of property, having your wishes on paper and legally binding can help your surviving family when it comes time to go through the probate process.

Thinking of your heirs

Because your family members will be the ones left to handle your final affairs, they will likely appreciate any instruction you leave for them. In particular, you can use your will to appoint an executor to handle the majority of the tasks necessary for probate. Probate is the process of closing your estate and can take a minimum of six months to complete. If issues with the estate come about, the process can take much longer. In a best-case scenario, your instructions will prevent problems.

Considering your estate

You may think your estate small, but it may consist of more property than you initially thought. The following assets are considered part of your estate:

  • Stocks and bonds
  • Personal property
  • Your house
  • Your car
  • Life insurance policies
  • Real estate

This list does not include all asset that could fall into your estate. Any property in which you have an ownership interest could also be part of your estate. Much of this property will also need to go through probate.

Assets that do not go through probate

While the majority of your property will likely need to go through the probate process, some of your assets may not. Property not subject to probate includes the following:

  • Property in a trust
  • Payable-on-death accounts
  • Accounts or policies with named beneficiaries
  • Jointly-owned property

By knowing which assets are subject to probate and which are not, you may have a better idea of what information to include in your will.

If you have questions or concerns regarding the benefits of estate planning and how it can help you plan for more than just asset distribution, you may want to speak with an Illinois attorney about your specific options.

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Leonard F. Berg, Attorney at Law