Most of us don’t like to think about eventually dying, but we know that it will happen one day. Unfortunately, many of us don’t plan ahead. If you pass away without an estate plan and a valid will, your heirs will be left without any way of knowing what your last wishes would have been. Many families discover too late that an outdated will doesn’t address more current issues such as guardianship of children. Peck Ritchey’s elder law lawyers recently ranked the top five mistakes made by individuals with regard to their estates and/or wills.

Mistake #1: Assuming They Don’t Need An Estate Plan

There seems to be a misconception that unless you’re worth millions, you don’t need estate planning. Attorneys in Chicago have seen countless families suffer needlessly because someone didn’t clearly state their wishes in a will. You may think you have enough life insurance to take care of your family’s needs; you may also hope that your heirs will gladly divide up personal effects such as jewelry without a squabble. The reality is rarely so easy. Talk to one of our Chicago estate attorneys if you don’t want your children fighting over who gets your wedding rings or who inherits your awesome collection of classic rock albums. In many cases, life insurance may not go very far, and inheritance taxes can eat up a sizable portion of your assets if you die without a will. Meeting with our estate planning attorneys in Chicago should be your first step toward maximizing your estate and diminishing future inheritance taxes.

Mistake #2: Not Updating Your Current Plan

If you wrote a will when you got married fifteen years ago, it’s time to review it with your spouse and our estate planning attorneys, particularly if you have minor children. Chicago estate attorneys can help you review and update your will to reflect your wishes more accurately and designate appropriate guardians for your children. Remind your parents that they should do the same so that they can choose who will make decisions for them if they are incapacitated. Peck Ritchey’s elder wills lawyers in Chicago can walk them through the process, ensuring that every generation of your family is protected by an estate plan.

Mistake #3: Using A Boilerplate Will Template

Preparing a will without consulting with estate planning attorneys is the same as constructing a building without consulting the blue prints. Chicago estate attorneys are familiar with Illinois state inheritance laws and can craft a plan that works for you and your family. An online will that’s downloaded and completed using “fill in the blanks” usually doesn’t work. Estate attorneys at Peck Ritchey can review your accounts, investments and wishes and propose an appropriate estate plan.

Mistake #4: Failing To Appropriately Designate Beneficiaries

If you have accounts such as life insurance policies, an annuity or pension that will pay out to your spouse or children after your death, be sure to review these with our Chicago estate attorneys. Many people forget that these don’t automatically pay out to your wife or children. Instead, the designated beneficiaries were chosen by name at some point. More than one client has been surprised to discover that their old railway pension or the 401K from a job held years ago designated an ex-spouse or didn’t include all of their children. Any designated beneficiary will automatically override even a more recent will. Estate planning attorneys in Chicago can help you prepare the appropriate paperwork to update all of your accounts and designate the proper heirs.

Mistake #5: Putting Off Meeting With Estate Planning Attorneys In Chicago

Your parents or grandparents may have already met with elder wills lawyers in Chicago, but you may be thinking, “I’m too young to worry about my estate yet.” Sadly, many people put it off until it’s too late and the spouse and children they left behind suffer the consequences when they die unexpectedly. If you have young children or a family member who requires special care, don’t put off consulting with our estate planning attorneys. Chicago families should clearly designate who will care for these family members in the event you no longer can.

Peck Ritchey’s estate planning attorneys in Chicago are ready to help you put together an estate plan that will ensure your last wishes are carried out properly while protecting your family and heirs.