Why it may be best to seek help with an estate plan

Illinois residents have the ability to create their own wills online. However, it may not be the best idea to do so, and those who have complicated estates may especially benefit from working with an estate planning professional. Ideally, an individual will have a will, trust and an advance health care directive. It is also a good idea to have a financial power of attorney.

Working with a professional may be ideal because it allows people to think about what they want and need from their estate plan. For instance, it may provide an opportunity to think about if a plan conforms to existing state law. Individuals may also be able to consider how family dynamics could influence their decisions and how to account for them. Ultimately, a person can't assume that he or she knows all that there is to know about estate planning.

There are many potential sources of information and guidance available to someone who is starting the estate planning process. A financial adviser or attorney may be able to help structure a plan that meets a person's needs. Those individuals can also provide assistance if a plan needs to be altered because of a life event or because of a change to tax or other laws.

Professionally-prepared documents may avoid the possibility of a will contest or other challenges to an estate plan. It may also allow assets to be transferred without family members or the general public knowing about it. Ideally, a plan will be reviewed and updated as events occur. For instance, it may be a good idea to look over a plan after a divorce or after a child or grandchild is born.

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