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Wills and trusts: Valuable estate planning tools

When an Illinois resident executes an estate plan, he or she may customize the documents in accordance with his or her goals. For many, asset protection is a high priority. Others own businesses and want to protect those interests, as well as incorporate succession plans as part of their estates. There are numerous types of wills and trusts; while estate owners can choose which options best fit their needs, they’ll want to avoid not having either because that can lead to probate complications down the line for loved ones.

Music icon Aretha Franklin died without executing a will or trust. She is not the only celebrity to do so. As is typically the case when celebrities or non-famous people fail to sign such documents, the Franklin estate is now caught up in probate litigation, which could have been avoided if she had written a plan to transfer her assets at the appropriate time.

Many people choose to use trusts instead of wills, as the former is the best means for avoiding probate. When assets are placed in trust, they are transferred outside the probate process. Trusts can also be used to provide funds for medical care when an estate owner is still living but is incapacitated. A trust can also prevent children from quickly draining the assets of an estate by restricting access to funds throughout their lifetimes.

Placing a business in trust allows the designated trustee or trustees to decide whether to continue operations or sell a company once the benefactor has passed. This is undoubtedly one of the simplest forms of business succession to avoid lengthy, complicated probate processes. An experienced Illinois estate planning attorney can provide guidance and support regarding wills and trusts, to anyone who wishes to avoid similar probate problems that Aretha Franklin’s family members and others are currently experiencing.