Estate Planning

Frequently Asked Questions About Estate Planning

1. What Is Estate Planning?

It is planning for your end-of-life wishes regarding your end-of-life health care decisions and the transfer of your assets. It is an important step toward making sure those wishes are honored. Estate planning involves creating and executing estate documents such as Wills, Trusts, and Powers of Attorney for Health Care and Property, as well as making sure beneficiary designations are in place for your various assets.

2. Why Do I Need To Make A Will, Create A Trust Or Execute A Durable Power Of Attorney?

Making a will allows you to leave all your assets specifically to your partner or spouse, establish a legal guardian of your minor children, and save the costs of having to file a bond with the Probate Court.

Creating a trust is another way to ensure that your property will pass to your heirs after your death. The terms of a trust remain private unlike a will and provide less opportunity for litigation. In addition, the assets in a trust bypass probate and typically are transferred to beneficiaries faster.

Executing durable powers of attorney for property and for health care provide a clear statement of your wishes regarding end-of-life issues.

Meeting with one of our attorneys to plan your estate includes a thorough review of your assets and can help you make the process of transferring your assets to your heirs faster and less expensive.

3. My Partner And I Are In A Civil Union Or Marriage. Do We Need Estate Documents?

Yes. For same-sex couples, a civil union or marriage gives you basic protections only in states that recognize the union or marriage. Wills help you establish a legal guardian for your children, trusts help you responsibly transfer your assets, powers of attorney for property and health care give your partner or spouse the sole authority to determine end of life issues and have easy access to funds that are not jointly titled.

In addition, because some states and many countries do not recognize civil unions or marriages between same-sex couples, moving or traveling creates a situation in which powers of attorney and wills are vital.

3. May Anyone Draft A Will For Me?

Any licensed attorney may draft a Will for you. Our firm, which specializes in LGBTQ issues, has 40 years of experience with the unique problems, solutions, and needs of the LGBTQ community.

4. How Do I Make Sure That My Partner Or Spouse Can Visit Me In The Hospital?

A Durable Power of Attorney for health care provides a clear statement of who you want to make decisions about your health care and of your wishes regarding end of life issues. Your named agent is able to visit you in the hospital. Without a Power Of Attorney for Health Care in place, your spouse or partner does not automatically have the right to your medical records under HIPAA, which may hinder their ability to work with your medical provider in making health care decisions.

5. How Can I Make Sure My Partner Has Full Access To My Funds?

A Durable Power of Attorney for Property gives your agent, who may be your partner or spouse, access to your financial accounts. Spouses do not automatically have this authority for assets solely titled in your name.

6. What Is The Difference Between A Living Will And A Power Of Attorney For Health Care?

A Living Will is a statement made by you about your end of life care preferences and is used as direct communication between you and a health care provider if you are unable to convey those preferences directly. A Durable Power of Attorney for Health Care includes a statement about your end of life care preferences, but also states with whom you would like the health care provider to communicate about your end of life issues. The power of attorney gives your agent decision making authority based on the recommendations of your medical provider.

Contact Chicago Estate Planning Attorneys

To schedule an appointment with an estate planning attorney, call 773-878-4480 or contact us by e-mail.