Inheritance Planning: When to Create Power of Attorney, Wills, and Trusts

This video features Marty Fogarty, a Family Law attorney based in Illinois.

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Inheritance planning is easier than many people think. By planning your power of attorney, wills, and trusts at the right time, you’re saving yourself and your family lots of conflict and complication years down the road.

Marty Fogarty is a probate attorney and founder of The Heartland Law Firm, based in Glenview, Illinois. In this video, he answers common questions about inheritance planning: when to create power of attorney, wills, and trusts.

To learn more, contact attorney Marty Fogarty by calling 888-981-5604 or by submitting a contact form on this page.

Who should be planning their estate?

If you’re married, you should be having this conversation with your spouse. If you’re single, consider speaking with an attorney to start planning what should happen to your possessions when you pass away. Planning it out helps the process proceed as smoothly as possible.

What are some common concerns for people involved in estate planning?

There’s a general reluctance to call a lawyer and get this process started. The truth is that by getting the lawyer involved, talking through the process, you’re making everything easier for your loved ones. For some, they have a mentality that if they plan for their death, that it will happen, and it can be a tough concept to confront. However, when you actually go through the planning process, it provides education, support, and ultimately relief.

What sort of mistakes do you see most frequently?

The number one mistake is not doing it.

The number two mistake is trusting online wills, online trusts, online power of attorney, and other downloadable legal forms.

The problem with those is that there may be things you haven’t thought of when planning your inheritance. Another problem is that the paperwork is static: it doesn’t change to reflect any changes in your life.

It may be tempting to save money and just use an online form, but you’ll find it ultimately more rewarding to discuss these matters with someone and make sure all your bases are covered.

Is it safe to download an online will and use that?

The one-size-fits-all template that you find online may not be right for all families and situations. Every family is unique, and it’s worthwhile to speak with a professional and make sure you’ve gone through the process correctly. This is the best way to get peace of mind. An estate planning attorney can review your documents and make sure everything is in order.

How frequently do you need to revise or update your documents?

This is one of the benefits of working with a law firm to handle your estate planning. When you first begin your relationship with them, you can set a standard that requires you to check in every few years or so to see if any important factors have changed. This can ensure that all your documents are up-to-date with any new laws or changes in the family.

How old should you be when you start planning your inheritance and speaking to an attorney?

When you turn 18, you should have a power of attorney for property and health care. What this means is, you should designate who can make a financial or health care decision for you if you are unable to do so. This can be your parents or another individual you trust.

As for a will, you don’t need to start worrying about this until you’ve accumulated a decent amount of assets, like a house.

When you own property and have children, then you should start looking into a trust.

What is a residuary clause?

A residuary clause explains what to do with the estate holder’s finances after they pass away. For example, give X amount of dollars to a certain charity, pay off my debts, and then split the remaining assets among my children. The residuary clause accounts for the “remaining assets” portion of the will.

How can you prevent a future conflict over your inheritance?

The best way to prevent a dispute is to emphasize clarity and open communication. You can add clauses to the will or trust saying things like, “If you file a lawsuit to challenge what I’ve written, you get nothing.” This is known as a no-contest clause. If the estate holder is worried about sibling disputes or long-lost cousins coming out of the woodwork, they can plan for and anticipate that kind of thing and structure their wills and trusts accordingly.

Is it important to start planning your inheritance as soon as possible?

Yes. If the estate holder is an elderly person and leaves one child a disproportionate amount of wealth, this could create a conflict among the rest of the family members. If the estate holder starts planning things early on and develops a relationship with an attorney early on, it can prevent this kind of disruption.

To learn more, contact attorney Marty Fogarty by calling 888-981-5604 or by submitting a contact form on this page.

Disclaimer: This video is for informational purposes only. In some states, this video may be deemed Attorney Advertising. The choice of lawyer is an important decision that should not be based solely on advertisements.


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