Are you confident your wishes will be carried out upon your death? While not a pleasant subject, this question is important to answer. You must act now to ensure that your family is cared for and that you control what happens to your estate. In addition, you should have plans that state your wishes if you become incapacitated and cannot communicate what medical treatments you do or do not want.
If you die without a valid will or trust, your assets will be divided in keeping with the state’s “intestacy laws.” In Illinois, this usually means your spouse gets at least half, and your children split the remainder. Otherwise, your estate is divided among your nearest living relatives. In those cases where no living relatives exist, the state will take your property.
The experienced and compassionate Woodridge estate planning attorneys at Wolfe & Stec, Ltd. always focus on our client’s needs and feelings and understand that every client’s personal, family, and economic situations are unique.
Your Woodridge estate planning lawyer can work with you to identify exactly what documents you need. In Illinois, the following documents are important:
Additionally, you may wish to consider preparing a living trust (a trust you create while you are alive) or other methods to avoid probate. Probate is a court proceeding that gives your executor authority to pay your bills and transfer your assets, but it can be expensive and time-consuming.
Illinois does not use the Uniform Probate Code to simplify the probate process, so a living trust avoids Illinois’s complex probate process. However, if your estate is under $100,000 and does not include real estate, state statutes allow your heirs to file a small estate affidavit to claim your estate without probate.
In some cases, it is wise to create a trust, which designates a person (a “trustee”) to hold legal title to the property for another person (the “beneficiary”). There are two types of trusts — living and irrevocable.
Just as it sounds, a living trust is created while you are alive. In most cases, you are named the trustee and retain control over all property held in the trust. When you die, the beneficiaries named in your will inherit the property.
A living trust does not replace a will. You still need a will. Your will provides a backup plan for any property not in your trust. It also allows you to name someone to inherit property not part of your trust.
On the other hand, irrevocable trusts require giving up ownership and control of trust property and cannot be revoked or changed after they are signed. They are used to achieve specific goals, like reducing taxes.
Finally, you may also name a trust as a beneficiary for some accounts, such as 401k, pension, IRA, Roth IRA, and insurance.
When someone challenges a will or estate plan because they feel they were not treated fairly, they may file a lawsuit called estate litigation. This situation is often unpleasant and stressful; cases may drag on, become contentious, and drain the estate of funds.
Reasons for challenges may include:
Our team has decades of experience helping individuals and families in Illinois plan for their future. When you choose our Woodbridge estate planning lawyer, you can rest assured that we will have the following:
A will is nothing more than a piece of paper if not correctly drafted, so seeking a lawyer’s advice is critical. The seasoned estate attorneys at Wolfe & Stec handle all Illinois estate planning cases with sensitivity, respect, and discretion.