Being in love and contemplating marriage or having married recently, may lead to thoughts about your own mortality – what will happen to my spouse if I am not around? Purchasing life insurance is a common response. It’s a great first step, but read on to see why additional planning is recommended for all couples.
Also known as a “prenuptial agreement”. If you are contemplating marriage, especially if it is not a first marriage for one of you, consider the benefits of having a frank discussion about how you view the financial aspects of marriage. Does it make sense to combine your income and assets or do you plan to retain separate control of your property? How do you plan to take care of each other in the event of disability, death or divorce? Although some may initially have negative feelings about a premarital agreement, working through financial discussions prior to marriage can lay a solid and secure foundation for your marriage.
If you are already married, consider the benefits of having a frank discussion about how you will treat the financial aspects of your marriage going forward. Perhaps one of you is considering leaving a career to raise children, or leaving a career to relocate to pursue the other’s career, or one spouse has accumulated debt, or your marriage has stumbled and there are feelings of insecurity with reconciliation. Does it make sense to combine your income and assets or would it be better to retain separate control of your property? How do you plan to take care of each other in the event of disability, death or divorce? Working through financial discussions at any time during a marriage can build security and a strong future for your marriage.
Under this document, you name a trusted individual to act as your agent.Your agent will have the authority to act on your behalf in situations where you are incapacitated either temporarily or permanently. The document will express your preferences in regard to organ donation and life support, which will serve as a guide to the appointed agent. Medical doctors and hospitals will look to the appointed agent to make decisions concerning medical treatment and care. Everyone over the age of 18 should have a current Power of Attorney for Healthcare.
Under this document, you name a trusted individual to act as your agent. Your agent will have the authority to act on your behalf in regard to financial matters. That authority can, but is not always, limited to times when you are unable to take care of your own affairs. Your agent will be able to pay your bills, manage your finances, investments, real estate and other property on your behalf. The powers can be as broad or limited as you are comfortable with. Every adult should consider having a current Power of Attorney for Property.
Plan for the unthinkable! If something happens to you, what will happen to your property? Leaving the distribution of your assets and personal property unplanned can have unintended results and make things more difficult for your already grieving spouse. Every Will allows you to choose the persons that will benefit from your assets and appoint the person that will handle your estate.
This document is also often referred to as a “living trust” or a “grantor trust”. Unlike a trust that is created by the terms of a Will, a revocable (living) trust exists at the time it is executed. Such a trust can be created by an individual or a couple. For the trust to be the most efficient, assets need to be transferred into the trust during the lifetime of the person(s) creating the trust. If assets are held in the trust it may not be necessary to open a probate estate on your death. If you become disabled and your assets are in the trust, the trustee will be able to use those assets to pay for your care and it will not be necessary for the court to appoint a guardian of your estate. The person(s) creating the trust will be able to freely transfer assets in and out of the trust and to sell assets that are in the trust as long as they are able to manage their own affairs. Because the trust is revocable, the terms of the trust can be amended. There may be other planning benefits to using a trust depending on your particular situation.
An irrevocable trust generally cannot be changed once it is executed. The grantor must relinquish control of the assets. The most common reason to create this type of trust is to hold a life insurance policy. Doing so removes the proceeds of the policy from your taxable estate and allows the proceeds to be managed for the benefit of the surviving spouse and descendants.
You may currently enjoy the company of a pet. What will happen in the event you are unable to care for your pet? Planning for the care of your pet will ensure that this important companion will live out its life with the care and comfort you intended.
Naming beneficiaries and contingent beneficiaries of your life insurance, retirement plans, stocks, investments, real estate or any other accounts or property is important. Unspecified designations may have unintended distribution and estate tax consequences, potentially leaving your spouse financially insecure. It is recommended that all designations be carefully considered and planned.
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Semmelman & Wisneski, Ltd. serves clients in Illinois such as Lake Bluff, Lake Forest, Libertyville, Vernon Hills, Highland Park, Mundelein, Gurnee, Grayslake, Wadsworth, Ingleside, Antioch, Wauconda, Lake Zurich and the rest of Lake County.
Regional Nicknames: Lake County, Illinois
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