Estate planning is a process where a person contemplates how their assets and belongings will be handled upon their death.  It is an activity many people do not undertake unless they have a large estate, a family, or are concerned with aging and sickness.  Since accidents and unexpected death occur randomly, everyone should take the time to put their affairs in order, in the event they become incapacitated and cannot speak for themselves, or they die.  Experienced estate planning attorneys can assist with the drafting of relevant documents and provide guidance for individuals as they prepare estate plans.   

Estate plan.

Estate plans usually include: 

  • A last will and testament, with guardianship if there are minor children, 
  • an advance healthcare directive, and  
  • a durable power of attorney.

Purpose of a will.

A Last Will and Testament is important for the purposes of explaining where and how an individual would like their assets divided, debts resolved and end of life issues outlined.  An experienced Carol Stream estate planning attorney can make sure a will contains the legally necessary language so that a person’s wishes can be honored at the time of their death according to state and federal laws. 

Wills must be prepared properly, signed, witnessed, and notarized (rules may vary from state-to-state). Key provisions of a will usually include naming the testator, identifying the document as a last will, appointing an executor, outlining the distribution of assets and any provisions to pay for estate expenses and taxes.

Will Types.

  1. Pour Over Will is used when there is a revocable trust.
  2. Medicaid Will be used to create a supplemental trust fund in order to allow a spouse who is receiving Medicaid benefits for long-term medical care to continue eligibility.  
  3. Will With Testamentary Trust is a last will and testament that adds a trust fund for children or other beneficiaries.   
  4. Holographic, or Handwritten Wills  may be recognized in some states. 
  5. Nuncupative Will is an oral will when and individual speaks their last wishes out loud (“dying declaration”), and may be valid in some states depending upon witnesses. 
  6. Living Will addresses common end-of-life care decisions outlined in a living will including cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR), mechanical ventilation, tube feeding, dialysis, antibiotic and antiviral therapies, comfort care and donations of organs, tissues, or whole body for scientific study.  

End of life care.

Do not resuscitate/intubate. An individual does not need to have an advance directive, or living will to have do not resuscitate (DNR) and do not intubate (DNI) orders. To establish DNR or DNI orders, inform a doctor about these preferences so they can write an order and keep it as part of a medical record.  

Advance directives. Carol Stream Illinois estate planning attorneys draft essential documentation, sometimes called a medical directive or advance directive, to cover an individual, or family members regarding medical power of attorney and do not resuscitate orders. Consultation with an Illinois estate planning attorney is a prudent decision.