Estate Planning Process

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Estate Planning Process in Illinois

Many people delay estate planning because they’re unsure of what the process entails. The idea of creating a plan that adequately supports the future needs that you and your family will face can be overwhelming. Rest assured that the process will go smoothly with an attorney’s guidance. Andrea Heckman Law is experienced in the many nuances of estate planning, and we can help you prepare for the future. Below, we review the basic steps of the estate planning process in Illinois. For advice specific to your case, please call our office.

Schedule an Initial Meeting with an Estate Planning Attorney

Since this process is a specialized area of law, your plan should be designed alongside a qualified legal advocate. An experienced estate planning attorney can ensure nothing is overlooked while drafting your customized plan. Scheduling an initial consultation will allow you to ask questions, get to know the firm, and understand the next steps.

Gather Documents and Information

Before you can create your estate plan, you’ll need to gather information about what and who will be addressed in the plan. We will assist you in collecting basic information about your family members, prior estate responsibilities, people you’d like to establish as positions of trust, a list of your property, your estate planning goals, and other relevant factors.

Draft Your Estate Plan

Once your attorney has organized all relevant information, we’ll prepare a draft of the estate plan. We complete this step alongside you and carefully consider your unique circumstances to draft a plan that accurately matches your goals. The set of documents will include a letter that summarizes its contents.

Review Drafted Documents

Next, you must review all drafted documents before approval. This step is very important since it is an opportunity to request changes if necessary. Make sure the provisions express you and your family’s needs and confirm that all names and addresses are correct.

Finalize the Estate Plan

Once you’ve reviewed the documents and confirmed that everything is accurate, it’s time to finalize the estate plan. If there are minimal changes needed, this step is very simple, and you can most likely finalize the plan through a phone call. However, complicated changes or significant concerns will require another appointment with your attorney to ensure the documents reflect your wishes.

Sign Documents

After approving the estate plan, you’ll meet with your attorney a final time to sign the documents. It’s important to know the rules that you must follow when signing. If you make a procedural mistake during the signing ceremony, it could invalidate your will. These documents must be signed, witnessed, or notarized according to strict legal guidelines in order to be valid. We oversee this step to ensure everything is signed correctly.

Modify Beneficiary Designations

At this stage, most of the details are worked out. However, most estate plans will still require you to modify beneficiary designations and ownership of assets. Your assets should be coordinated alongside your estate plan. For example, you may need to make your trust or estate the beneficiary of your payable-on-death accounts to maintain allocations among the designated individuals. While having your retirement granted to your spouse can provide certain advantages, issues like the allocation of gifts and tax planning will also determine which options are best for you.

Future Updates

Be aware of times when you may need to update your estate plan. Trusts, wills, and other documents are not set in stone and may need to be updated as your needs or relationships change. In these instances, you’ll want to contact Andrea Heckman Law for dedicated legal guidance. We’ll ensure your estate plan best prepares your family for the road ahead.

Contact our office to arrange for a free initial consultation and review of your case.


Andrea Heckman

Managing Attorney

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