The Edwards' Law Offices
Estate Planning Attorney  - Illinois & Missouri  

The Edwards' Law Offices      

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Estate Planning Insight

Last Will & Testament (Will).  You can provide instructions to the court about who is to receive your assets at your death, appoints a personal representative to wind up your affairs, disinherit individuals you do not want to receive anything, select someone (guardian)  to care for, and raise any minor children, donate to favorite charities, i.e., schools, religious organizations.  Without a "will," your state intestacy rules determine who receives your assets and the court who will raise any minor children.  Also, most people need more than a "will' to protect their estates, loved ones, and themselves.
Revocable Living Trust (RLT).  You can keep control over assets while you are alive and say what happens to them at your death, maintain privacy and confidentiality, amend or terminate it, reduce or eliminate estate taxes, avoid the time consuming and costly process of probate, retain control over beneficiaries’ inheritance to protect it from spouses, predators, and creditors. It is ideal if there is real estate, minor children, and beneficiaries with special needs.

Pour-Over Will.  It works in conjunction with a living trust.   It covers assets the grantor (you) have not included in the trust.  Without explicit directions provided in a will, those assets would be subject to intestate succession laws established by the jurisdiction where you died.

Powers of Attorney.

  • General Durable Power of Attorney. You can appoint someone (Attorney-in-fact") to manage your financial affairs and property if you cannot(i.e.,  manage bank accounts, pay bills, sign tax returns, apply for government benefits, sign and terminate leases, and engage in similar activities relating to your financial and legal affairs) and avoid guardianship and conservatorship
  • Medical Power of Attorney.  You can appoint someone (medical agent) to make health care (medical) decisions on your behalf if you cannot do so ( i.e.,  admittance or dismissal from a hospital, authorizing medical procedures, terminating food and water, or life support) and avoid guardianship

Note. If you are already incapacitated, it is too late for powers of attorney. Your relatives will be forced to go to court to gain authority over you and your affairs, which could mean disagreements, resulting in a costly and emotional confrontation.

Healthcare Directive(Living Will). You state your wishes about life-prolonging procedures to be withheld or withdrawn if you have a terminal or end-stage condition, or in a persistent vegetative state.

HIPAA (Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act) It protects your (patient) personal health information from disclosure without your consent. By signing a HIPAA waiver, you can release protected information( e.g., health status, progress, and treatment) to third parties selected by you.  It can be challenging to obtain that information without this document.
Third-Party Special Needs Trust(SNT):  Protects beneficiaries with disabilities( i.e., educational, learning, physical, and mental)  without rendering them ineligible for public benefit programs such as Medicaid and supplemental security income (SSI).   It is funded by you,  a family member, or friends but not with the assets of the beneficiary with the special needs.