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200 N. LaSalle Street Suite 2150 Chicago, IL 60601

Introduction to Estate Planning With Sarah Buck

Loredana Lohan: My name is Loredana Lohan and I am a paralegal at Hays Firm LLC in Chicago, Illinois. Today I am joined with Ms. Sarah Buck who is one of our attorneys here at Hays Firm. Say hello to everyone Sarah.
Sarah Buck: Good morning!
L: Morning. So, today over coffee we are going to be asking Sarah our expert on estate planning just some intro questions to gives us, you know, me an aspiring law student, and then you, the interested viewer some insight. So what exactly is estate planning?
S: Well estate planning is planning for life’s eventualities. We all know that we’re not gonna be here forever, but we’re also planning for times when we’re ill, when we can’t maybe make decisions for ourselves. Maybe we’re in a car accident and we just need help paying our bills, or we’re unconscious from that car accident and someone needs to sign the paperwork consenting to the treatment. And so we have to think about who do we want to give level of importance decision making power, who do we want to give that to. Who do we trust enough? Who do we love enough to give that power to?
L: So when I hear about estate planning, I usually think it, it’s just about writing a will. What other documents are in an estate plan?
S: So everybody should have a Power of Attorney document. As soon as you turn 18 you become a fully-fledged adult with full powers to make your own decisions. Your parents cannot call and make your doctors appointments, your parents cannot sign and consent to treatment. As an example, if you’re a high school senior and you get injured in maybe a soccer game, you still have to sign those papers even if your arm is broken. Your parent can not sign those for you. So everyone over the age of 18 should have someone they trust who can help them in times when they need it. And it does not have to be a devastating accident. It could be I broke my arm, I broke my—the situation im thinking about was a broken collar bone. You know, you just have to be ready for that kind of scenario. Um, we also do trusts, um, one of the major tools we draft is called a revocable living trust and that is a tool you also can use while you’re incapacitated, maybe you’re older and have dementia, but it’s a tool that we use to help our clients manage their assets during their lifetime and after their life time.
L: Okay interesting. When do you recommend someone should think about or start writing their estate plan?
S: So there’s a couple things that happen in your lifetime that you need to think about an estate plan. One you turn 18 or your kids turn 18. They should, you should be talking about that. Um, you get married, you have a first job. There’s so many, I could go down a whole long list.
L: So it sounds like any big event in your life.
S: A huge life event.
L: Okay.
S: Yes.
L: And it’s interesting because it seems like new events occur, you know, very often in our lives whether that’s, you know, a new job, a new car, a new spouse
S: Right
L: So do you need to update these documents every so often or can you just leave them the same?
S: You You absolutely should always be updating them or atleast reviewing them after every major life event. Now we draft our documents such that, um, they will grow with you. However, you might not like the way that those documents are growing with you as your life changes. So it is—you do have to take a look. A lot of people call us after they have a baby. And that is great, but they also need to be calling us when that child turns 18 or when maybe somethings happened and they realize they now have a special needs child or disabled family member in their life. Those are the times, um, that even if you already have an estate plan, we need to do a look through and see does this document still do what you want it to do.
L: And the last question that I will ask you is you, when I think of estate plans or will writing, um, I always think “well can I just write this document myself?” Why is helpful to have someone with this legal background?
S: Now this is such a great question because we have AI which will draft a document for you now.
L: I bet.
S: Legal zoom has been out for years. And all I can say is that I have been on the other side of those when someone dies when someone becomes incapacitated and I have to try to get someone’s wishes accomplished at a Probate Court, um, with this document and a lot of times it doesn’t happen. These documents miss statutory language, these document, um, miss specific, um, state regulations and more importantly is these documents miss just the human touch than an attorney can give.
L: So if you want your wishes actually fulfilled you do need ensure that there is proper legal language
S: Yeah
L: That will allow that to happen.
S: Yes. And just as an example, there is specific language that needs to be in every Illinois Will, and we have had those Wills rejected by Judges because the statute, the language almost gets it. It says words that are probably good in every other state, but it is missing the magic language that Illinois Judges like so they won’t admit the Will.
L: So estate planning varies from state to state also.
S: It does, it does.
L: Okay so that’s something really interesting to know.
S: Yeah that does.
L: Okay well, thank you for your time.
S: You’re welcome.
L: It was nice seeing you on our couch in our living area. Thanks so much.