During the good times in their lives, estate-planning documents probably do not mean much to Illinois residents. In fact, they may not even give them a second thought. However, when they pass away, a few sheets of paper can make a tremendous difference in what happens next. In fact, there really is nothing "simple" about a last will and testament.
The average age of the population of this country continues to rise. Even as the number of so-called "gray divorces" continues to rise, many couples here in Illinois and elsewhere remain together well into their golden years. Sadly, not enough of them engage in the type of estate planning that will adequately care for the surviving spouse upon death.
Most Illinois residents may already be aware that in August, the world lost a music legend when the Queen of Soul, Aretha Franklin, died at the age of 76. Even though other celebrities recently died without an estate plan, it is still surprising that Franklin died without even a will. That means that her approximately $80 million estate will need to go through probate as an intestate estate, which in this case, will probably be time-consuming and certainly expensive.
The primary purpose of an Illinois resident's will is to distribute property. While that statement may generally be true, there are certain types of property that a will does not distribute. In fact, including some items in this document could complicate probate and cause surviving family members a great deal of consternation, time and money.
Most Illinois residents want to make sure their family members do not have to go through anything unnecessary in order to take care of them both before and after death. Estate planning can help make sure that does not happen. Without the proper documentation in place, the state decides where assets go upon death and/or family members must go to court to determine how to handle certain issues.
Just as is the case anywhere in the country, anyone here in Illinois can become the victim of a scam, but it is seniors who seem to be the largest target group. Scams come from a variety of sources, even estate planning. People prey on the fact that seniors may not have put a plan into place yet and may feel pressured to execute one.
Illinois residents know that they have the right to choose what happens to their assets after they pass away, but far too few people actually take advantage of this right. An estate plan allows them to let their loved ones know how they expect estate administration to go. Otherwise, it will be up to the state and the courts.
Many people still question why they need estate plans. One of the primary reasons for going through estate planning is to have some say in how the probate process will go. Otherwise, the state of Illinois makes the choice of how things proceed and who receives what of a decedent's estate.
Even when the death of an Illinois resident is not sudden or unexpected, surviving family members still need time to grieve. Some people may even panic, even if only a little since they may have relied on the decedent for support. Starting the estate administration process does need to happen within a decent time frame, but there is no need to rush into it in the first few days.
When it comes to figuring out how to best provide for family members after one's death, Illinois residents have numerous choices. One of those choices is to use a revocable living trust. For many people, this type of trust helps simplify estate administration.