Providing for family members is a priority for many Illinois residents. They work hard, save when they can and plan for retirement. Another way to provide for loved ones is to create an estate plan, which serves two primary purposes — to leave an inheritance for surviving family members and to take care of them if they become incapacitated.

Some preparation is needed before making any decisions regarding how to structure an estate plan. It helps to take an inventory of assets, review life insurance policy and retirement account beneficiaries, and determine who will handle certain aspects of the estate on behalf of an individual. For instance, a will needs an executor, a trust needs a trustee and powers of attorney need someone to make decisions on that person’s behalf if he or she cannot.

If an individual has minor children, his or her will can include the appointment of a guardian to care for them if the parents pass away before they reach the age of majority. Depending on a person’s preferences, property can be passed on to loved ones through a will. However, it may make more sense to create a trust to put assets in since assets in the trust typically do not go through probate. This allows surviving loved ones quicker access to what they need without having to wait for a distribution through the probate process, which could take some time.

Making decisions regarding how to structure an estate plan is often a challenge. Knowing the best way to express one’s wishes and achieve his or her goals is not always an easy task. Enlisting the assistance of an Illinois estate planning attorney could help make sure that the documents properly express a person’s wishes and comply with the law, which helps ensure that the process will go more smoothly during an already difficult time.