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Avoid these mistakes in your estate planning process

When it comes to planning for the future of your estate after your death in Illinois, you may be confused about the variety of vehicles for protecting your assets. Estate planning requires a comprehensive understanding of state and federal statutes, which can be difficult for the everyday client.

The good news: Your estate planning attorney can help you with wills, inheritance issues, and other key concerns. These professionals protect your interests and make sure your estate is distributed exactly according to your preferences. Here are some additional tips to make sure your estate transfer goes exactly according to plan.

First, make sure that your will captures your preferences and intentions exactly. This may seem obvious, but designating your beneficiaries - and keeping them up-to-date after relationship changes, births, and deaths - is one of the easiest ways to keep your will intact. Review the wording carefully and ask your attorney about the implications of specific terms.

Next, make sure that you are educated about the differences between inheritance tax and estate tax. These terms refer to state and federal taxes, respectively, and have vastly different implications for those who are performing estate planning tasks. In some cases, spouses are exempt from inheritance taxes - and many states have different requirements and regulations. Make sure your attorney explains these to you before you finalize the documentation.

Finally, make sure that you are reviewing your estate plan over time. Again, relationship changes, births, and deaths can all impact the ways in which you intend to distribute your property. It would be a shame to have probate issues over distribution of property because you did not maintain your estate plan to reflect your current situation. Attentiveness and a little bit of preparation can make all the difference for your estate planning needs.

Source: U.S. News & World Report, "9 Estate Transfer Issues to Avoid," Kira Brecht, Feb. 28, 2017

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