Everyone in Illinois has a reason to do some estate planning. Even if you own very little property, planning ahead can save your family from a lot of headaches in the future. When a person dies with no estate plan, their assets must go through the probate process, which means the government decides who gets what.
Take an inventory
The first step in estate planning is taking an inventory of everything you own. This means accounting for all of your physical items of value as well as all of your financial accounts and businesses.
After you have taken inventory of your assets, you should think about where you would like those assets to go. Write down all of your family members and their individual needs to help you tailor your estate plan to try to meet those needs. You may also think about which family members would be in the best position to protect certain assets in your estate.
Write a will
Everyone should write a will regardless of how big or small their estate is. One of the most important things a will can do is name a guardian for any minor children you have. You can always go back and revisit your will later to make updates as circumstances change.
Review beneficiary designations
You should review the beneficiary designations on every financial account that you own. Although this is one of the most important steps in an estate plan, many people forget to do this. Your beneficiary designations allow the contents of your financial accounts to pass directly to the beneficiaries, skipping the probate process.
Talk to a professional about complex situations
Everyone has unique estate planning needs, but there are some situations that are more complex than others. If you need help determining how to handle a jointly owned business, for example, you may need extra assistance.