A popular anthem from thought leaders of every stripe is to establish a plan and execute it. With a plan, they implore, measure success, spot issues and weather the undertows and riptides of work, family, community or all three if the plan is properly conceived and executed.
“Planning” however does not always generate positive feelings. Planning can be daunting and for this reason, can easily lose priority on any checklist.
Nevertheless, “get a plan” has been the battle cry of lawyers who help people identify the property they own and protect it for centuries. In fact, these lawyers claim this mantra as their own because property laws, ownership and inheritance are woven into history’s fabric.
Since the dawn of time, nations, governments, families, dictatorships and religious organizations have grappled with these laws. These groups have either done nothing or interpreted these laws and, in so doing, created conflicts both big and small. Regardless of size, history has warned that these conflicts come with a cost.
At the crossroads of the conflict that is inevitably created by “doing nothing” and “getting a plan” is where you will find lawyers who protect people and their property with wills, powers of attorneys and trusts. These lawyers are ready to help you get a plan to protect your property from court battles, excessive taxes and unnecessary loss. The plan can be simple or complex depending on your needs and crafted to protect your property and the people that matter to you.
The plan can be changed as often as your life changes too.
You do not need a pen, smartphone or spreadsheet. You do not need a spouse, a life partner, a child or dependent family member. You do not need financial adviser or accountant.
You need to be ready to discuss and answer these three questions:
What property do you own?
Who gets your property when you are no longing walking the earth?
Who do you want to make decisions about your property when you are unable to do so?
Making a plan to protect you and your property is your right, not a privilege, regardless of age, income level or tax bracket.
Should you elect to do nothing, your family, friends and business partners are left to open bills, read paperwork and intently attempt online account access. With every key stroke, email and phone call, they try to locate your property with life insurance companies, employers, banks and government agencies all while managing their own already ready busy lives.
If your team needs a hand as they track down your property, a lawyer is able to help distribute the property according to Illinois law, even if a judge has to get involved to make decisions for you because you did not make these decisions for yourself.
If anything you read evoked just the slightest bit of discomfort, you have now acknowledged that you need to get a plan.
• Corinne Cantwell Heggie is a principal of the Wochner Law Firm LLC in Northbrook. Corinne helps people avoid asset loss, court battles and taxes with wills, trusts and powers of attorney. Corinne lives in Glenview with her husband and three sons where they are active in sports, Boy Scouts and ministries that support women and children in crisis.