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Do your research before entering estate planning process

Many Illinois residents understand the importance of protecting their assets and providing for their loved ones in the event of their own deaths. However, some jump into the estate planning process without any basic knowledge or guidance as to what state regulations are or how certain documents may work for or against them regarding their particular estate needs and goals. There are numerous mistakes that are quite common that those considering executing an estate plan will want to avoid.

First, no estate owner (or anyone involved in any type of written agreement) should sign anything without clearly understand the terms therein. If someone who is not well-versed in estate planning and probate laws draws up documents without really understanding the implications of what he or she is doing, it can create a financial mess, and it may cause problems for loved ones when the time comes to administer the estate. Avoiding this error is quite easy by requesting assistance from an experienced estate planning and administration attorney.

Neglecting to periodically review and update a plan as needed is another potentially damaging mistake that many estate owners make. For instance, if a spouse is listed as a sole beneficiary and a divorce and remarriage occurs but the estate owner never updates his or her plan, the first spouse would still be legally entitled to the estate. The nice thing about the estate planning process is that it can be customized according to the estate owner’s wishes and unique circumstances.

Failing to execute power of attorney or failing to update one’s designations are two other mistakes that are easily avoidable. Many experienced planners say that powers of attorney are just as important as a last will, especially if the likelihood of incapacitation is great. If no one is designated to make financial or medical decisions on an estate owner’s behalf, it can be a problem. By consulting with an experienced probate law attorney before signing estate planning documents, these and other common errors can be avoided.