This may be the most important document for controlling your quality of life. Let's face it a Will just takes care of your stuff, this takes care of you. In illinois you may designate your healthcare agent. The individual will be given a list of powers, limitations, and directives on what you want or don't want for care. Illinois allows for the power to be springing thus triggered by a status or event. You will also empower you Agent to have complete records access under HIPPA. Finally, the Agent may also have the power to control what happens with your remains upon death. You can authorize cremation, designate funeral plans and specify where you wish to be buried (if you do). All individuals over the age of 17 should have this document.
Property Power of Attorney
While not as essential as the Health POA this too should be in you planing binder. We most often think of this for when an elderly individual becomes incapacitated to the point they can not manage their affairs. While that is a very important use, there are other needs too. If you travel particularlly internationally, anticipate surgery, participate in high risk sports, are a camper or hiker, even just a person who goes on retreat. These are all cases where having someone to cover for you while "out of pocket" is essential. This document will give the Agent the power to manage your business affairs while you are not. You can create trigger events that come a go or if you are particularly comfortable and trust your Agent they can maintain the power to act. One area you do want to make certain is included is the management and control of you cyber presence and accounts. One cautionary note, this is a very powerful document. Picking the wrong Agent or giving too much power and not enough limitation or guidance could wipe you out. So select carefully.
Even where you structure your estate to stay under $100,000, you need to have a will. This will serve to pay your last expenses and give your Administrator the power needed to settle your affairs. Be sure however that you have made arrangements to keep that total passing through less than the $100.000.
It is essential that you fill out those pesky beneficiary forms for your financial and investment accounts. By utilizing this tool you will keep out of probate and also minimize the taxes on IRA/401K accounts. If you are using a trust, you can make the trustee the beneficiary.
Real Estate Transfer on Death
The other essential estate document is filing a Transfer of Death designation for you home or other real estate. Again this keeps clear of probate.
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