Estate Plan Basics Everyone Should Understand: An Expert Explains

estate plan basics

Estate planning is one of the most important ways to protect your loved ones and plan for their future. Unfortunately, many people do not understand the basic concepts involved in preparing an estate plan. In fact, many do not even realize that the benefits apply to everyone, regardless of age or financial status.

At Churchill, Quinn, Hamilton, & Van Donselaar, Ltd, we have asked some of our established attorneys to answer some questions in order to share some insight on topics that they are passionate about. Amber Desselles specializes in helping her clients develop the right individual estate plan for their specific needs. Here is what she would like people to understand when it comes to preparing an effective estate plan. 

What exactly is an estate plan and who should have one?

An estate plan is a set of legal documents that ensure your wishes are adhered to after death or incapacitation. Your estate plan sets out what you would like done with your assets after death, as well as who you would like to be in charge of that distribution. Your estate plan should also include instructions for who you would want to manage your health and financial affairs upon your incapacitation. This is done through powers of attorney. Having an estate plan in place is important for everyone because anything you do not legally document you are leaving up to the courts to decide. Only an experienced attorney should prepare your estate planning documents to ensure drafting and implementation is effective and no issues arise after it’s too late to rectify.

What is the best way to get started on an estate plan?

The best way to get started on an estate plan is to meet with an attorney who practices in estate planning so that we can determine which documents will need to be implemented to ensure all of your goals are met. Some things to think about before your meeting are:

  1. Who are my beneficiaries, and what do I want them to receive
  2. Are there any limitations or restrictions I want to include?
  3. Who would care for my minor children in the event of my death or incapacity?
  4. Who do I want to manage my affairs in the event I am unable to?
  5. Who do I want to be in charge of selling my assets and distributing my estate?
  6. What assets do I have and how are they titled?

What is the most important information you think people should know about estate planning?

Having an estate plan is important for everyone, regardless of your net worth or what assets you own. Parents should have powers of attorney drafted for their children upon their 18th birthday to ensure they retain rights if their child is injured or in an accident. Parents with minor children should have a legal Will that nominates who they want to act as guardian of their children if something happens to them before their children reach the age of majority. Again, anything you do not legally document you are allowing the courts to decide for you.

What do you enjoy most about helping people with their estate planning needs? 

The most rewarding thing for me is seeing the relief on clients’ faces once they have everything signed and in place. Knowing that their families and loved ones are protected brings a sense of comfort that is almost palpable.

What is one fun fact about yourself that you would like to share?

In my free time I like to create jewelry and art with my two daughters, Zoey and Myra.

We appreciate Amber and the great concern she has for her clients, as well as her ability to prepare the right estate plan to protect their interests and well-being. Contact our office at 847-223-1500 to schedule an appointment to meet with Amber and learn more about all of the benefits of a carefully-crafted estate plan.