Useful information to help guide
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Estate Planning - 'One and Done,' or an Ongoing Process?

Life is an ongoing process. The unique circumstances and facts of your life are dynamic, and changing all the time.

To better take care of your loved ones, eliminate unneeded stress, and secure your own peace of mind, you’ll want to treat your estate plan in the same way – recognizing it as an ongoing process, rather than thinking of it as a static set of documents that you can stash away and forget.

Think about it: How similar is your life right now to the life you were living, say, five or ten years ago?

Perhaps you’ve gotten married, or divorced? Maybe you’ve had a child. Maybe you’ve purchased new big-ticket assets, such as a house or a vehicle.

You’ve likely opened new lines of credit, or taken on new debts. Perhaps you’ve started a business, or entered retirement.

Maybe you’ve set up a new financial account, or started with a new insurance policy, or found a new avenue for investing your money.

These common little everyday details of life add up –and they all affect your estate plan, which tends to become more complex and detailed over time.

For instance, changes in financial standing, marital status, or personal relationships will all affect end-of-life planning. As the years pass, you may wish to rewrite your will to change your beneficiaries, as an example, or to update who will be named as guardian of your children. You may reassess who you will name your powers of attorney for healthcare and property, as your personal relationships grow and evolve. If you’re young and relatively healthy when you first set up your advanced healthcare directives, you may wish to revisit your wishes as you get older.

And, so far, we’ve only acknowledged circumstances that are personal to you, or that you have some degree of control over. But the fact is that there are also outside factors that will change over time, and which could affect your estate plan; markets may boom or contract, tax law may change, and other pieces of legislation might well pass at a federal, state, or local level, affecting you and your family in a myriad of different ways.

The bottom line is that the one constant in life is change – and that your estate plan needs to be ready to keep up. It’s important to recognize that you’re likely going to have to make adjustments to your documents, records, and personal requests as the years go by.

It’s also important to bear in mind that a failure to regularly review and properly update your estate planning documents could negatively impact your loved ones when you pass away. Kicking the can to some far off day could mean leaving it until it’s too late, setting the stage for disputes and increasing the chances that your loved ones will have to endure a lengthier, more in-depth probate process.

Working with an attorney experienced in the probate and estate planning process is one way to help ensure that you’re well-informed about estate planning, and better-equipped to tackle any changes or challenges as they crop up in the long term.

Have any questions? Chicago Probate Lawyers is here to help set you up with the estate plan that will best address the unique needs of you and your family, acting with compassion and clarity at each and every step of the way. Don’t hesitate to drop us a line today to get the conversation started!

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