Estate Planning When Life Gets Messy

Whether it’s something as simple as owning a home out of state or as dramatic as a difficult family situation, there are many factors you’ll need to consider when putting together your estate plan. Often, the vagaries of life will require you to revise your plans time and again, so even if you already have a will, trusts, and other important documents in place, you should see your attorney to make sure everything works out the way you want it to.

Here, we’ll go over a few of the ways your estate plan might get a little messy and what should be done about it.

Complex Assets

Owning property outside of Illinois will generally require an ancillary probate – i.e. secondary probate proceedings. Probate avoidance tactics can be used to simplify the process of distributing your out-of-state assets upon your passing. For example, you might put it in a living trust or have it co-owned.

Property held jointly could be another point of complexity in your estate plan, especially if there are no rights of survivorship – in other words, the other owner (or owners) of the property don’t automatically inherit the property on your passing. Jointly held property should be treated with care in your estate plan in order to prevent disputes or confusion later on.

Divorce

Separating from a spouse can be a messy and highly emotional process. Even so, it is crucial to make sure your estate documents and plans are set in order to keep your property protected. Under Illinois law, a divorced spouse is automatically revoked from your living will and certain trusts, but you will still need to name new beneficiaries for those.

In addition, an ex-spouse is not automatically removed from a life insurance plan, so you will need to make sure that is modified accordingly. Otherwise, you might end up inadvertently leaving the benefits to a former spouse, which could result in conflict during probate.

Children

Having children naturally adds chaos to your life, including to how your will and other estate plans are put together. Most people want their children to receive some form of inheritance, so making changes to your will in order to reflect that will be in order.

As your kids grow up, you may find it necessary to change what you leave them or even to restructure the way estate property is disbursed. In some cases, you might doubt your posterity’s ability to wisely manage inheritance funds, so you might structure a trust to make sure it’s handled properly. Their own life events might also come into play, such as if they get divorced or find themselves constantly harassed by creditors. Keeping your legacy within the family will require some careful planning in these cases.

Future Possibilities

Life can change drastically in a moment, so you want to make sure your plans are put together in a way that can handle those changes. Throughout the estate planning process – including times when you need to revisit your plans – you will need a skilled estate planning lawyer. Hart & David’s attorneys can help you make the plans and revisions you need.

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