Howard & Hardyman LLP

Is estate planning complicated?

Illinois residents will approach estate planning with different levels of knowledge and experience. While planning out the future of their estate is a breeze for some people, for others, the steps and terminology involved will seem daunting to figure out. Fortunately, you can rely on the expertise of a qualified estate planner to get you through the process, but pitfalls may remain if you are not careful.

Forbes explains that a professional estate planner can take you through the process of setting up your plans to pass your estate along to your heirs. Basically, you do not have to come up with each step yourself. The job of the planner is to compose a plan that fulfills all of your needs. When the overall plan is ready, you would then sign off on it.

Problems arise if you fail to comprehend what the planner is telling you. It is not unheard of for individuals to sign documents that they do not understand. They rely on the expertise of the planner to carry them through the process. A failure to understand their own estate plan, however, can cause people to neglect key steps in the plan.

For instance, you might not understand that you need to keep on top of beneficiary designations. If you have previously named a beneficiary on your retirement account or your life insurance policy but have recently listed a different beneficiary on your will, the person named in your will is still unlikely to receive the assets you wish to pass on. The reason is because beneficiary designations on financial accounts will almost always trump the wishes of a will.

To avoid needless confusion, you may have to spend more time with an estate planner before you sign the documents. Ask questions and have the planner explain aspects that you do not understand. Additionally, taking notes during meetings can help you retain important information and contribute to better decision making after the meetings are over. These notes can also help you remember key facts months or years later.

Because estate planning varies from person to person, this article should not be considered legal advice. It is only written to provide educational benefit to readers about estate planning topics.

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