Estate Planning Lawyer Oak Brook, IL Estate Planning Lawyer Oak Brook, IL- couple in meeting with lawyer

As an estate planning lawyer Oak Brook, IL residents trust to represent their interests can tell you, digital technology is changing the nature of what it means to engage in estate planning. Americans are living during a time in history that is increasingly being referred to as “The Digital Age.” Fifty years ago, it would have been difficult to imagine that virtually everyone in the U.S. who had achieved puberty would be spending significant portions of every day with a computer in their lap and another in their pocket. Yet, nowadays, it is hard to imagine navigating a world in which we don’t have access to GPS, the means to communicate with virtually anyone else in the world, and the ability to look up facts at the touch of a screen.

It is precisely because so much of Americans’ daily lives are lived online and via electronic means that it is critical to consider one’s digital footprint when estate planning.  It is easy to overlook this area as you are developing your estate plan and your larger framework. Failing to account for one’s online presence can leave significant gaps in one’s estate plan. With the pervasive threat of security breaches and expanding your plan to address digital privacy concerns, it is crucial that you prepare a comprehensive plan that protects your assets. However, it can be hard to know where to start. There are many legal strategies that you can deploy. Thankfully, the dedicated legal team at Bott & Associates, Ltd. can help you prepare for all of your digital estate planning needs.

Estate Planning Lawyer – Oak Brook, IL

With more people having a larger presence on the internet, implementing digital estate planning is essential. As more and more people are using apps and other online communication methods to manage their finances, there is a legitimate risk of being a victim from unauthorized parties who are trying to gain access into your accounts. Creating a digital estate plan allows you to cover your bases and utilize a number of legal strategies so that your entire estate plan is not only continually up to date, but protected and secured. 

“But wait,” you may be thinking, “I can’t map out my digital footprint in an estate plan because it changes all the time.” This is a valid concern. Thankfully, almost all estate planning documents are meant to be “living” in nature. This means that you can update them as often as you need to as your life circumstances and preferences change. Whenever a major event in your life happens, such as the addition of a new child or loss of a family member, you can update your digital estate plan as necessary. It is one of the key benefits of having an estate plan in a digital format. Additionally, please know that our lawyer team understands how to account for the ever-changing nature of digital footprints when constructing a digital estate planning strategy. 

Digital Estate Planning Considerations

Think about the number of times each day you log on to an account. Each account is likely password protected. If you were to become incapacitated or to pass away tomorrow, do you have any way of relaying how to gain access to those accounts? Who would you like to have access to them? Who would you like to prohibit from accessing them? What do you want done with the information, assets, and/or intellectual property contained on these accounts? These are the primary subject matters that digital estate planning concerns itself with. By working with a qualified lawyer that clients trust  now, you’ll better ensure that your online life—and anything stored on any of your devices—is handled according to your preferences later.  

Preparing a Digital Estate Plan 

There are several things that you need to know when you are preparing a digital estate plan, as an estate planning lawyer can explain. To begin preparing your plan, organize all of your digital assets and find out the value for each asset. You will need to gather the login information for each as well. Determining how to best organize your accounts can be difficult, but a lawyer will be able to assist you. If you need help with this step you can consult with a lawyer so that they will review your assets and see if the information is correct. 

Examples of digital assets include the following: 

  • Banking accounts
  • Retirement accounts
  • Email accounts
  • Social media accounts 

A lawyer who has knowledge about digital assets can provide you more information if you are not sure what other accounts fall under the digital asset category. 

Thing to Include in Your Plan 

When you make your digital estate plan, there are key things that you want to specify. Unlike a regular will, the information within a digital estate plan should be kept out of the public eye so that you can control who has access to sensitive personal information regarding your digital assets. Some of the areas that you may want to address in your plan include: 

  • How you want to protect your digital assets
  • Who your digital executor will be
  • Where your digital estate plan will be located

Figuring how to approach each of these topics can be unclear and confusing to figure out, but having a skilled and experienced lawyer at your side can help you accomplish these tasks more quickly. If you are struggling to understand certain legal concepts, do not hesitate to ask a lawyer so that you are putting your estate plan together correctly.

Legal Assistance Is Available

If you have not yet created an estate plan, the experienced Illinois legal team at Bott & Associates, Ltd. can help you to accomplish this critically important task. Our legal team can also assist you with updating your existing estate plan documentation if you already have some drafted. Either way, know that your proactive efforts now will help to ensure that your wishes are honored later. Our Oak Brook, IL estate planning lawyer team looks forward to assisting you.

Common Estate Planning Mistakes

When estate planning Oak Brook, IL residents rely on experienced lawyers who can help plan for the future. Although many people may procrastinate when developing an estate plan, believing they have time to plan for the future, it’s essential not to delay for several reasons. Putting off the process can be highly problematic for several reasons. For example, without a plan, the testator loses their ability to have their wishes carried out, and family, amongst their grief, will be left to decipher what comes next. It’s important to note that even those who develop an estate plan are susceptible to making mistakes during the process. Because of this, it’s important to consider speaking with Bott & Associates, LTD, to avoid the many pitfalls of estate planning. 

#1. Making Mistakes with Beneficiary Designations 

When mapping out your wishes, one of the most important aspects of estate planning is making beneficiary designations. There is far more involved than just choosing a beneficiary for assets. Testators must consider several factors when doing so. It’s vital to ensure the person of your choosing receives the assets allocated to them. To ensure this, it’s essential to indicate your wishes by ensuring that beneficiaries are named on accounts such as 401ks, life insurance policies, and payable upon death accounts. An Oak Brook estate planning lawyer will share that, in addition, you must not only communicate your wishes to prospective beneficiaries but also name backups in case the person initially named passes away. Lastly, it’s crucial to have a plan for minors who may be designated as beneficiaries by having a guardianship plan and trust in place to safeguard their inheritance. 

#2. Not Planning for Minors

When the testator has minor children to consider, it’s essential to make a clear plan that involves several important variables. Minor children need to have a guardian assigned to care for them (don’t forget to name backups) and a plan for how they will be financially cared for until they become adults. An estate plan can carefully outline how a child will be cared for, and a trust can help determine how their inheritance should be distributed as they reach adulthood. Failure to carefully plan for minors can be catastrophic for several reasons; with no one assigned to care for them, families may fight over guardianship, which, amidst grief, can make the loss of a loved one especially difficult. Also, note that without a responsible person to oversee a child’s inheritance, it’s possible that the funds designated for minor children could be squandered. 

#3. Creating Your Own Estate Plan

It can be tempting to consider developing an estate plan with the many estate planning tools available on the market today. While this may seem like a more affordable option over the services that a lawyer can provide, it’s not recommended. There are several dangers associated with using an automated estate planning tool, including:

  • Automated software may not take into account state laws
  • There is not a professional to ensure that all avenues are considered
  • There is no professional to advise on things you may not have considered
  • The estate plan may not protect assets from probate
  • In the long run, a DIY estate planning tool may be more costly as the will and estate plan may be out of date and irrelevant when the time comes

While this is not an exhaustive list of mistakes that can be made, there is a vast array of problems that a testator could make. Whether they have forgotten to update their plan or put off developing an estate plan altogether, having a lawyer available for Oak Brook estate planning is imperative to developing a plan for the future that leaves nothing up for consideration. Bott & Associates, LTD have an experienced team of lawyers who can help their clients put together a plan that is well thought out and provides peace of mind in knowing that there is a plan for the future.