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Estate planning: What does it mean to get one's affairs in order?

Many Illinois residents understand the value of planning for their futures. How each person interprets that may be somewhat unique, although the estate planning process is a common tool most people use to organize their assets and execute a plan to be carried out if they should become sick or incapacitated. When someone says that he or she wishes to get his or her affairs in order, it can mean different things.

It is common for those planning their estates to designate one or more people to handle their financial affairs or to make medical decisions on their behalf if they are unable to do so for themselves. A power of attorney is an important document that serves as an advance directive. A living will is another document that allows an estate owner to make his or her wishes known, which can make it easier for loved ones to address health care needs down the line.

Getting one's affairs in order also often refers to personal records and financial documents. It is helpful to secure written documentation of one's birth, marriage, Social Security number, military records and other pertinent personal background information, and to allow a trusted person access to the files. A similar file containing financial records might include bank account information, insurance policy information, and any and all documents concerning taxes, mortgage or investments.

It is never too early or late to activate the estate planning process, provided one is of sound mind. While it is typically a goal to create as strong and thorough a plan as possible, every issue doesn't have to be resolved all at once. An experienced Illinois probate attorney can remain on hand to make any changes or updates to a plan, as needed.

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