Are Southern Illinois Residents Prepared For The Next Few Months?

History shows that residents of Southernmost Illinois have never quite been through the kind of tumultuous times that the next few months are likely to be. What does that mean? Think about the strange confluence of historic events that are currently unfolding in the United States: a pandemic (the fatality count of which could double by the new year), a president who openly states he might not accept the results of the election, a nation more divided than ever before, and a faltering economy.

It seems like a recipe for disaster.

That means we all must prepare for what will come in the next few months. Life will go on no matter what, but not for everyone. Coronavirus has assured us of that. What can you do to prepare? Take a moment to contact an estate planning attorney or check out an estate planning guide. If you are not sure what will happen when you pass away, then these are the most prudent next steps.

The most important step in estate planning is to ensure you have a living will and trust — and that you have assigned a trust friend or family member to execute that will should the worst befall you. This will usually guarantee that the fate of your assets goes according to your plan and not someone else’s. Should you fail to write up a signed and notarized will, then probate court could allocate your assets to beneficiaries you did not necessarily name. In order to keep control, you need to do this as soon as possible.

Another important task is to name those beneficiaries. You might want to set aside a trust or specific funds for a family member to use only under certain conditions. What kind of conditions? Maybe once they reach the age of eighteen, go to college, get married (or even divorced if you’re not a fan of the spouse), etc. You have the power to see that your money goes where you want it to go.

Estate planning can also help you avoid certain kinds of taxes. Smaller estates will avoid taxes on the estate itself, while larger ones might owe Uncle Sam a pretty penny. If you own a business, you might be able to avoid taxes by chatting with a lawyer before making any firm decisions about what will happen to that business when you pass away.

You will also want to name a healthcare proxy to make decisions on your behalf if you find yourself incapacitated physically and mentally. A separate (or the same) trusted individual should be named to take care of financial decisions if you are unable to do so yourself. You can direct these persons to take only the steps specified under certain conditions — so, while the the responsibility might still be weighty, the hope is that these individuals are really only there to dot the I’s and cross the T’s. What are you waiting for?

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