The basics of estate planning

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Estate planning is a difficult process, in which we often face a lot of fears common to all humanity and fears that are often felt by the main earners in families. It is hard enough to confront the prospect of the end of life, but it is also difficult to ensure that our loved ones will be safe in the future.

The biggest mistake that estate planners make is to not plan at all. In the event that a person dies intestate -- the Illinois legal term for not having a legal will -- the government may get an outsized share of a person's property after death.

It is often advisable to update a will periodically. Life events in the estate holder's life, as well as in events for family members and associates, may change the requirements for a person's wishes. An attorney with a specialty in estate planning may help remind clients when this is necessary.

If a person is concerned that an estate tax applied by Illinois or the federal government will shrink his or her assets, gifts under legal limits to spouses or family members are recommended so the value is passed on to those intended by the estate holder.

This is often not the best policy for property, however, because a house or land given to a child or other recipient may be a high-value taxable gift. It is often best for properties and other real estate to be left to the intended recipient through a will and testament.

Source: FindLaw, "Ten Common Estate Planning Mistakes to Avoid," accessed Nov. 08, 2017

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