After people in Illinois get married, they may assume that they will automatically receive everything their spouses have in the event that their spouses away. However, this is not true, as what the surviving spouse inherits will depend on factors such as previously selected beneficiary designations. Here are a couple of ways that married individuals can ensure that their assets end up in the right hands when they pass away.
Key estate planning steps
To protect their assets, those who are married would be wise to create individual wills, as these are the core building blocks of any estate plan. In their wills, they can each spell out what assets should go to the other party if they were to die. These assets may range from real estate to family heirlooms and even cash.
In addition, both spouses should ideally review their beneficiary and ownership designations on assets such as vehicles, annuities, life insurance and stocks. Then, they can retitle or redesignate these assets as needed so that they are in alignment with the estate plan. This is paramount because beneficiary and ownership designations can undermine a will in probate court.
Seeking professional help and support
Navigating the estate planning process can no doubt be confusing and even frustrating, particularly for married individuals with many assets or high-value property. However, an experienced attorney in Illinois can guide asset owners through this process to ensure that their wishes regarding the distribution of their property are accurately reflected in their estate plans. The attorney can also periodically update an individual’s plan to make sure that it continues to protect his or her best interests long term.