Estate Planning

Individuals and families create Estate Planning documents in order to have needs and wants carried out upon their death or during a time when they are unable to manage their own affairs.
Will:  A Will is a document that controls the disposition of your property after your death.  In Illinois the formal requirements are a written document whose maker is at least 18 years old and of sound mind, signed by the maker and two witnesses in the special manner provided by law who are not beneficiaries under the Will.  Once the Will is proven valid and presented in court, its provisions can be carried out.  Changes prior to death can be made in accordance with legal requirements.
Without a Will the court distributes the property of the deceased to the legal heirs according to the law.  Therefore the value of a Will is that it is a planned distribution of your estate as you have chosen and not as a fixed statutory distribution.
Important considerations in making a Will might include who should receive your property and at what age, naming guardians of your minor children, creating trusts for your spouse and children and who should be named at the Trustee to manage the trust.  You will have to name an executor of your Will and whether you want charitable gifts to be made.  Include any life insurance policies in your will and consider making changes to your Will as situations in your life time may change including marital status change or the death of a beneficiary.
Power of Attorney (POA) for Property:  This device is used to provide your designated agent with the power to act for whatever matters you delegate within the document.  It allows the agent to do anything that you could do, therefore this agent should be one you have placed your utmost confidence and trust.  This document must be signed by you and witnessed by a notary public.  The power is conditioned upon your incapacity.  Death automatically cancels a power of attorney, so this device is no substitute for a Will.
Power of Attorney (POA) of Health Care: A Health Care Power of Attorney allows you to name your spouse, family member, or close personal friend to make health care decisions for you when you are unable to do so yourself. They can then talk to your doctor, read your medical records, and get a second opinion. 
The document allows you to say what should happen in the event that your doctor says there is nothing more they can do. This is commonly called a living will declaration. A Health Care Power of Attorney allows for those you trust to ensure your medical wishes are carried out when you are no longer able to do so yourself.