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What is Estate Planning?

Estate planning is a multi-faceted and individualized legal practice. No two estate plans are the same, but all plans are designed to reflect your specific desires in distributing your estate assets after death and in managing your personal, financial, and health decisions during your life. An estate plan answers the critical questions encountered throughout life, including periods of disability and death, giving comfort to those left behind that your direction has been expressed with certainty. Depending upon your particular needs, the core legal documents outlined below are an excellent place to start.

Life-changing developments and changes in the law make it necessary for estate plans to be fluid. Amendments and codicils to estate planning documents provide the method for modifying those documents brought on by these life-changing events. Our long-established office in Naperville, Illinois, serves the Chicago metropolitan area and collar counties, while our new office in Northwest Indiana, serves residents in areas like Portage, Valparaiso, Chesterton, LaPorte, Hobart, Crown Point, or Cedar Lake. We can help you design and adopt an estate plan tailored to your wishes, whether it is your initial estate plan or an estate plan update.

Each estate plan is unique and requires its own set of documents depending on your wishes, what you want to protect, and what you want to pass on to loved ones after death. Legal documents commonly used in an estate plan are a will, trust, health care powers of attorney, living wills, and financial powers of attorney.


A trust-centered estate plan benefits many individuals and families, and allows individuals to capture the advantages of avoiding the court-monitored probate process that occurs without this form of planning. These legal documents serve estates large and small, and contain privacy, liquidity advantages, tax planning benefits, and general expense avoidance features not found in other alternatives. Specifically designed trusts can be used to hold insurance policies, retirement plans, or funds to support charities.


Wills remain a useful estate planning document and are the best alternative in certain situations. A Will can stand alone or serve as a complementary document for a trust-centered estate plan. A Will distributes assets and nominates guardians to care for children, among other things.

Without a valid estate plan, the deceased’s assets are subject to distribution rules devised by the state legislature (known as the laws of intestate succession). Our attorneys will review your current assets in Illinois or Indiana, along with your personal and financial goals, and make recommendations for the estate plan alternative best suited to your needs.

Advance Directives

Advance directives let you designate an individual to act on your behalf if you become incapable of making decisions. A property power of attorney, healthcare power of attorney, and living will work separately or together. The powers of attorney transfer authority to a trusted agent to manage your finances and health care decisions without the need to seek a formal court-ordered guardianship. These directives are provided to financial institutions and healthcare professionals, and hospital or clinical facilities, and remove an unnecessary burden upon family members who may face stressful decisions concerning your health or financial condition. Our estate planning attorneys prepare these detailed legal documents to ensure your plan is appropriate for your specific situation.

The Value of Working with an Experienced Illinois and Indiana Estate Planning Attorney

Our estate planning attorneys will guide you through creating or updating your Illinois or Indiana estate plan. As your children age, mature, marry, or experience loss through a death of a spouse or a divorce, and property is sold or purchased, your asset protection needs will also change.

Our experienced Illinois and Indiana estate planning lawyers provide carefully designed estate planning documents that address healthcare and end-of-life decisions with the dignity you deserve. Our firm can help create or update your estate plan to ensure your family legacy.

The Law Office of Edward P. Graham, Ltd. has assisted clients like you and your loved ones for nearly 30 years and understands and implements successful strategies in estate planning, business law, Illinois/Indiana litigation, probate, family law, and real estate law. We urge you to contact our Naperville office to learn more about how we can help meet your estate planning needs in DuPage County, Will County, Kane County, and other surrounding counties in Illinois. Contact our Indiana office to address your estate plan if you live in Porter County, Lake County, and LaPorte County in Indiana.

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