When many Illinois residents think about estate planning, they think about writing wills. A will is a good thing to have, but for many people, it may not be enough to fully protect their estates. Why might you need more than a will?
There are several reasons a will might not be enough for you. It all comes down to what you have, where you want it to go and who you want to protect.
What do you have?
Have a home, bank accounts, retirement accounts, other real estate or valuables? Some assets can pass directly to beneficiaries through beneficiary designations, and some will go directly to any joint owners. The terms laid out in a will do not override beneficiary designations or joint ownership.
Where do you want it to go?
Maybe you want your assets to go to family members, a beloved pet, or to a charity of your choice. While you can specify where you want your assets to go in a will, they may have better protection if placed in a trust you can control during your lifetime, which someone else then manages after you die. A trust gives you and your trustee more control over the distribution of your assets.
Who do you want to protect?
It doesn’t matter if you want your estate to go to family, friends or an institution. You can leave your assets to whomever you want. However, you need to be careful that the inheritance doesn’t hurt them in the end. For example, say you have a loved one with special needs who receives government assistance. Receiving an inheritance can make them ineligible for that assistance unless the inheritance is in a special needs trust and disbursed strategically.
Consider the bigger picture before settling on just a will
The point here is this. You have to consider the bigger picture before deciding whether you’ll leave your estate plan at a will or create something more comprehensive. Yes, some Illinois residents can achieve their estate planning goals with just a will, but many others cannot, and it will be their loved ones who pay for it in the end.
So, think big picture. Get help creating an estate plan that fully protects what you have and who you want, all while ensuring your assets end up in the right hands when the time comes.