The first step for estate planning is to determine who you desire to inherit your assets. This is important because prior to speaking with an attorney, you should have a general idea of who are your beneficiaries.
The second step for estate planning is to identify who you will appoint as an executor or trustee. An executor is the person that administers a will upon the decedent's death. An trustee is a person that manages a trust agreement. Executor or trustees are important positions because they will have significant financial responsibilities. You should be prepared to have up to three (3) executors and trustees. This is important because your first executor or trustee may not be available or desire the position.
The third step for estate planning is to identify potential family conflicts that could occur. You should establish a practical and effective plan to address family conflicts. For example, if you own a house, what is the process for selling the home. If you have multiple children, your children may have different expectations than their other siblings.
The fourth step is research whether a will or revocable living trusts or living trusts is more appropriate for your situation. Typically, if you have a home, a living trust is better than a will. A will must undergo probate court, is public record, and is more costly in the long-run. It is more costly because probate court, attorney's fees, and court fees add up quickly.
The fifth step is having two (2) to three (3) witnesses and a notary public present while you sign your will or trusts. You should not have any witnesses that are inheriting under your will or trusts. Your notary public and witnesses should witness you sign your will or trusts.
In conclusion, estate planning is important because it families family conflicts, which if not managed effectively, are costly and destructive. Sean Robertson is Principal of Robertson Law Group, LLC. Sean Robertson can be reached at 312-498-6080 or 630-364-2318. Robertson Law Group, LLC has offices in Naperville, Chicago Ridge, and Naperville.