If you have worked for years to provide a good life for your family, it could be time to consider elder law and estate planning. One of the key ways an elder law attorney in Chicago can help you is by setting up a plan that skirts court proceedings if you pass away or have a disability.
Learn more below about the differences between elder law and estate planning. Also, find out how an elder law attorney can protect your estate. Talk to our Crystal Lake elder law attorneys at Bruning & Associates if you have questions or concerns.
The Difference Between Elder Law and Estate Planning
The Administration for Community Living reports about 50 million Americans at least 65 today. For many of these older Americans, thinking about elder law and estate planning is in order. However, before planning for your future, it is critical to understand the differences between elder law and estate planning.
Elder law refers to many legal matters involving older Americans’ rights. Some of these legal issues under the umbrella of elder law include:
- Protecting the elderly from physical and mental abuse
- Preserving property and assets
- Ensuring they have full access to necessary medical care
Many elder law attorneys focus on providing for a client’s medical needs as they age and approach the end of life. You must take critical steps to ensure your access to medical care. What happens if you suddenly cannot make legal and financial decisions for yourself? An elder law attorney in Chicago can partner with you to set up a game plan for your medical needs if you are incapacitated in your later years.
Elder law also concerns getting you and your partner qualified for Medicaid if that is what you want. But, again, doing this correctly can protect much of your estate from being consumed by long-term care expenses.
Estate planning refers to the steps you and your spouse can take to distribute your money and property after you pass. If you do not have an estate plan established during your life, it will have to be handled later. An estate plan is important to ensure your wishes will be honored.
A Chicago estate planning attorney can open the discussion about estate planning and elder care with a simple understanding of your wishes. For example, you may begin by informing your attorney how your money will be distributed to beneficiaries when you pass away. Then, it is your estate planner’s task to devise a solution to obtain your goals.
Some of the legal tools your elder law and estate planning attorney can set up for you are:
- Power of attorney
- Long-term care planning
Why A Will May Not Be Enough
Writing a will is a critical step in estate planning and elder law. A will ensures your assets will be distributed per your wishes upon death. However, your estate plan may need more than just a will. A will does not cover all the bases.
For instance, have you considered how critical healthcare decisions will be made if you cannot? Who will you rely on to make decisions for you if this happens? A living will and a healthcare power of attorney are vital legal instruments. They detail who your doctors can talk to for answers about your desires when you are incapacitated.
Another essential part of your elder law estate plan is beneficiary designations. Some assets and personal property can be given to your heirs without being written in the will. Do you have pensions, retirement accounts, and insurance plans that you want to go to certain people? It will help to work with your attorney to name appropriate beneficiaries.
Other possible parts of your estate planning with an elder law attorney could be a durable power of attorney, guardianship designation, or a letter of intent.
Why You Need An Executor Of Your Estate
Most estate planning lawyers recommend their client name an executor of their will or trust. An executor is a person who will administer your estate when you pass. Some of their critical duties are dealing with probate if needed, safeguarding your assets, paying debts, and giving assets to beneficiaries as the will dictates.
It is best to name an executor you have great trust in. This is someone that you can have discussions with regarding your financial wishes. You can count on this person to ensure your assets are distributed the way you want.
What Happens If You Don’t Have An Estate Plan?
When you do not work with an attorney to protect your assets with an estate plan, all of your property is handled according to Illinois’ probate laws. For example, if you pass away and left a spouse, all of your property goes to them. If you only have children left, they inherit everything.
However, it is more complex if you do not have a surviving spouse and children. First, the estate is divided and given to siblings and parents if they are alive. If there is no close family, your assets are divided among uncles, aunts, nephews, nieces, and cousins.
Contact a Chicago Elder Law Attorney Now
If you are getting close to retirement or the end of life, it may be time to consider elder law estate planning. You worked hard for so many years. The last thing you want is to leave a large part of your estate exposed to taxation, probate, and other steep costs.
The Chicago elder law attorneys at Bruning & Associates are skilled in elder law and estate planning to safeguard your estate. They also will ensure your assets will be inherited by the beneficiaries you want.
Our elder law attorneys can help you in many parts of Chicago, including Lake Shore Drive, Michigan Avenue, and State Street. They also are pleased to serve Crystal Lake, Schaumburg, and Scottsdale, AZ. Our attorneys are also active in our Warrensville, Naperville, Lake Forest, and Saint Charles offices. Please contact a Chicago elder law attorney today to get started on your estate plan at (815) 415-3000.