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Making sure probate goes according to plan

Even though most people do not like to contemplate their own demise, most Illinois residents have some idea of how they would like their estates distributed after the pass away. Without an estate plan in place, those wishes may not be carried out. In order to help make sure that probate goes according to plan, certain steps need to take place.

How an estate plan is structured largely depends on the wishes of the person creating it. For instance, if an Illinois resident wants to keep as many assets as possible from going through probate, one or more trusts could help accomplish that goal. Some accounts pass to beneficiaries without having to go through probate, a trust or a will. Retirement accounts, life insurance policies and some other accounts pass directly to beneficiaries through beneficiary designation forms.

Even with trusts and beneficiary designations, a will serves a purpose. It provides a public declaration of an individual's wishes. In addition, if he or she forgets to put one or more assets into a trust, the will could outline where they go upon death. If not used as the primary way to distribute assets, it provides an important backstop for anything that falls through the cracks.

Estate planning can be as unique as each individual. Depending on a person's wishes regarding how the probate process unfolds, different documents and plans may be employed. Knowing which ones best suit a particular person's needs and understanding the laws surrounding the estate planning process will more than likely require the advice and assistance of an estate planning attorney who can help ensure that his or her wishes are fulfilled and goals are met.

Source: investors.com, "Estate Planning Checklist: Easy Stress-Free Steps For Getting Organized", Michele Chandler, March 30, 2018

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