Put in its most simple terms, estate planning involves putting your affairs in order so as to maximize the benefits that your assets can provide to you during your life and to those you desire to benefit from it after your death.

  • Reducing or eliminating the burden of estate death taxes.
  • To insure that your assets go to your designated beneficiaries
  • To avoid costs, time delays, and inconveniences to your estate and the people left in charge.

A proper estate plan to provide for the needs of your family may include:

  • An adequate Will or Trust;
  • A written agreement concerning the status of your assets;
  • A directive to your physician or a Durable Power of Attorney;
  • Final instructions of your preferences.

A power of attorney is a legal instrument wherein you, the principal,appoints an agent to act for you in your absence. A durable Power of Attorney allows your agent to act for you even when you are incapacitated. You can limit the duration of powers and the scope of your agent’s power. A Power of Attorney is not effective when the principal is deceased. Your agent cannot attend to your financial affairs if you are deceased. Therefore, your estate plan must comprise of other legal instruments, which are effective at the time of your death, such as a Will or Trust.

Everyone needs a Will. If you have children, you must create a will. This is the only legal instrument that appoints a guardian for your children. In a Will you can appoint an executor to manage your finances, arrange your funeral, pay your debts, taxes, and distribute gifts according to your design. In order for a Will to be valid, it must conform to your state’s law. When you pass, your executor will have to seek court approval to act on your Will. This is known as probate. Probate is a court process that insures payments to creditors and that your estate is distributed according to your design. Probate in Illinois, can wind-up within 6 months. Estates worth less than $100,000 in personal property alone, do not require probate. If you need to access funds left by a deceased family member, we can draft a small estates affidavit to facilitate release of these funds. Codicils are amendments to Wills and
wind-up in as little as 6 months.

A land trust is a contractual agreement between a land owner and a trust company. The land owner transfers his or her real property interest to the trustee, reserves beneficial interests, and the rights to direct the trustee to: (1) issue deeds, (2) amend the trust agreement, or (3) encumber the property with debts. The trust agreement itself, lists the beneficiaries of the real estate upon the death of the “land owner” and the extent of the beneficiaries’ interest. A land trust creates secrecy as to the identity of the owner of real estate. As a result, it may achieve avoiding creditors. Moreover, investors and commercial property owners, find that it is the most cost effective way to hold title. Jennifer is an agent for the ATG Trust Company.

The Living Trust is no longer limited to the rich and famous. It protects you while you are alive and deceased. Your Trustee will have a fiduciary responsibility to your family and your estate. If you are a professional, business owner, or have disabled children, you should strongly consider this instrument in planning your estate. There are few burdens. If your primary objective is to avoid Probate, or to avoid your children wasting your estate, the Living Trust will meet your objective. A living trust can be altered by an amendment.

If you already have an estate plan, it should not be considered permanent. Conditions, as well as your desires, may change. Estate plans should be reviewed at least every two-three years but, additionally, any important change in your life demands immediate review. These changes might include:

  • Birth, death, marriage, divorce or disability of you or a beneficiary;
  • Large increase or decrease in the net worth of you or a beneficiary;
  • Substantial change in the type of your assets;
  • Purchase or sale of a business;
  • Change of residence to another state;
  • Change in tax law.

  • Probate Avoidance;
  • Capital Gain Tax Savings;
  • Retention of privacy of family assets and finances;
  • Avoidance of conservatorship;
  • Creditor protection for your beneficiaries;
  • Control of distribution and management of assets during life and after death;
  • Death tax avoidance or reduction.

Individuals whose estate will be subject to estate taxes can benefit from a trust. Use of trusts can play a paramount role in saving on estate taxes. Small estates benefit from avoiding the cost of probate. The value of an estate for estate tax purposes include all interest owned in assets including life insurance, joint tenancy or community property holdings, and business interests.

If you do not have a Will or a Trust and have not used other probate-avoiding techniques, upon your death your assets will pass according to the laws of descent and distribution of the state where you die and or the state that has jurisdiction over your assets. Unfortunately, the state laws may result in unintended distributions, higher estate taxes, the cost of probate, the necessity for establishing court guardianship for assets inherited by minor children.

In Illinois a probate estate can complete with in as little as six months. Some states require all trust beneficiaries and heirs of a decedent to be sent a specific notice and giving them a period of time to contest the estate. Illinois doesn’t have this requirement. But, creditors can lay claim to sue for unpaid debts of deceased for two years. For this reason some people prefer Probate in Illinois.

If just a Will was used, Probate Court proceedings are often necessary to settle the estate. Probate is a very formal and organized process. The more formal and organized a process, the more complicated it typically becomes and the expense usually increases accordingly. The cost is largely driven by contesting heirs. If a Living Trust is used, Probate is usually avoided and attorney fees are typically less than they would be in Probate. The cost of administering a trust depends largely on whether a corporate trustee or bank is appointed under the interest where a private individual is involved the cost may be reduced to the expense of ministerial acts.

The following methods are often used to avoid probate (sometimes this is useful, and sometimes it is counterproductive): joint tenancy, bank account trusts, pay on death accounts, life insurance proceeds, retirement proceeds (IRA’S, TSA’S, 401K’s, etc.), retirement plans, gifts made during life. Each technique has its own ramifications for tax and other issues.

Under Illinois law, inheritances are the separate property of your child and not marital property. Please note that if your child does not live in Illinois, often times the law of the state where your child resides would control this issue.) So his spouse has no rights in or to the inheritance. Of course, what your child does after he receives the inheritance can change what was once his separate property into marital property. The most typical example is where the child who receives the inheritance places the assets into a joint bank account. Once he does that, it may not be his separate property anymore. So the best approach is to make sure he doesn’t commingle these newly received assets with the joint assets of he and his spouse. Certain types of Living Trusts can help greatly in preserving these inherited assets as separate property.

Yes, without estate planning, this can happen if your child dies and had inherited your assets, if your child dies without a will or trust the Illinois Laws of Descent & Distribution render your child’s spouse an heir.

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Chicago Bankruptcy Attorney, Chapter 7 Bankruptcy Attorney, Property Tax Appeal Cook County/ Property Tax Broward Cook County, Property Tax Miami-Dade County/ Property Tax Broward County, Estate Attorney Chicago, Lawyer

Chicago Bankruptcy Attorney, Chapter 7 Bankruptcy Attorney, Property Tax Appeal Cook County/ Property Tax Broward Cook County, Property Tax Miami-Dade County/ Property Tax Broward County, Estate Attorney Chicago, Lawyer