Woodridge Estate Planning Attorney

Our Woodridge estate attorney can provide the peace of mind of knowing your final plans are in order.

No one wants to think about death, but if you want your wishes to be carried out after you are gone and ensure that your family is provided for and spared unnecessary expense, it makes sense to do some planning now. In addition, you should have plans as to what you want if you become incapacitated and may not be able to communicate what medical treatments you do or do not want.

Illinois has an estate tax on the wealthiest families with more than $4 million of assets, but estate planning is not just for the rich. People of modest means benefit from pre-planning to ensure that property will be distributed promptly and according to personal wishes. If you die without having a valid will or trust, then your assets will be divided in keeping with Illinois “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; if you have no living relatives, the state will take your property.

If you do not wish this to happen or if you have a special situation, such as a child you wish to disinherit, you need to have a will or trust that states your wishes.

In addition, you should be aware that if you want to leave your surviving spouse less than one-third of your estate, the spouse can challenge your will. If this is the case, you should seek the help of an attorney and have a prenuptial agreement created in the event of a second marriage.

The experienced and compassionate Illinois estate planning attorneys at Wolfe & Stec, Ltd., always focus on our clients’ needs and feelings and understand that every client’s personal, family and economic goals are unique.  We work with you to organize your assets, identify your goals, and make sure your planning documents are done correctly to give you the peace of mind that you have done right by yourself and your loved ones.  We offer a free initial consultation at our office locations in Woodridge and Chicago.

What Does “Estate” Mean?

Your “estate” refers to all of the property that you own or control, including:

  • Real property and the things attached to it (houses, buildings, barns, etc.)
  • Personal property (vehicles, bank accounts, stocks and bonds, cash, furniture, jewelry, collectibles, etc.)
  • Businesses and business interests (inventory, tools, equipment, accounts receivable, etc.)
  • Life insurance and annuity contracts, pension benefits, IRAs, etc.
  • Debts and obligations owed to others
  • All claims you have that others owe you.

Estate Lawyers Know What Documents You Need in Illinois

In Illinois, your estate planning documents should include the following:

  • A will — that states where and to whom you wish to leave your assets.  It names your executor (the person chosen to carry out the distribution of an estate, including filing tax returns, paying bills and representing the estate in court).
  • A durable power of attorney for finances – a person designated to take care of your finances if you become incapacitated and are unable to make financial decisions.
  • A living will (called a declaration in Illinois) — to spell out your end-of-life wishes, including whether you want your life prolonged artificially in the event of a terminal illness or permanently unconscious condition.
  • A durable power of attorney for health care – this names someone to act on your behalf if you become incapacitated and unable to make health care decisions. This document goes further than a living will and may be used in conjunction with one.

You may also want to consider a living trust (a trust you create while you’re alive) or other methods to avoid probate.  Probate is a court proceeding which 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.

An Estate Planning Attorney Can Help You Decide Whether You Need a Trust

A trust designates a person, called a trustee, to hold legal title to property for another person, called a beneficiary. The types of trusts are:

  • Living trust – This is a trust that you create while alive. Most often, you are the trustee and keep control over all property held in the trust. When you die, the beneficiaries named in the will inherit the property.

    If you make a living trust, you still need a will to provide a backup plan for any property that is not in your trust. The will also allows you to name someone to inherit property that is not part of your trust. If you don’t have a will, any property that isn’t transferred by your living trust or other method will go to your closest relatives as determined by Illinois state law.

  • Irrevocable trusts — These trusts require giving up ownership and control of trust property and cannot be revoked or changed after they are signed. They are used for specific goals, like reducing taxes.

You may also name a trust as beneficiary for some accounts, such as 401k, pension, IRA, Roth IRA and insurance.

Call our Wolfe & Stec estate planning attorneys to see if a trust is right for your individual circumstances, at 630-305-0222.

What if Circumstances Change?

If you have made an estate plan and your circumstances change due to the divorce or death of a primary beneficiary, it is important that your estate plan be updated. If you do not update your estate planning documents, your assets could be distributed in ways that you neither expect nor want, including to your ex-spouse.

To make sure your estate plan reflects your current life and wishes, your best bet is to revoke your will and make a new one naming new beneficiaries, new Powers of Attorney, and new beneficiaries for life insurance policies, pension plans, etc. If your ex-spouse was executor, you need to name a new executor as well. If you have young children, you should name a guardian in case of death of your spouse, and if you feel strongly that your divorced spouse should not have custody of your children, write down your reasons in a letter and attach it to your will.

Our Estate Lawyers Can Help in Cases of Estate Litigation

Estate litigation is an unpleasant and stressful situation that occurs when someone challenges a will or estate plan. This may occur when someone feels they were not treated fairly and is willing to bring a lawsuit to rectify the situation. Cases may drag on, become contentious, and drain the estate of funds.

Whether you wish to challenge or defend the will or trust, our Illinois estate lawyers can help with litigation for reasons such as:

  • Mental capacity – challenges over whether a deceased person was of sound mind when signing their will.
  • Undue influence – when it is believed that beneficiaries have coerced the deceased into signing it or making changes in it.
  • Fraud – for situations where estate documents were forged or modified without the deceased’s knowledge.
  • Breach of fiduciary duty – when the estate executor acts improperly, such as by stealing or mishandling assets.
  • Execution or interpretation – when documents have not been signed or witnessed properly or the terms and instructions have not been interpreted correctly.

Contact Our Estate Planning Attorneys in Woodridge to Ensure Your Plan is Legally Binding

Illinois estate laws are complicated, and information about wills can be found in this Article of the Illinois State Statutes.

However, a will is nothing more than a piece of paper if not correctly drafted, which is why seeking a lawyer’s advice is critical. The seasoned attorneys at Wolfe & Stec handle all Illinois estate planning cases with sensitivity, respect, and discretion.

At Wolfe & Stec we made our reputation one client at a time, and we put every ounce of our ability into every case. There is no charge for the first consultation, and we are happy to schedule appointments at our office.

Take no chances by planning your estate correctly. Call us today for your free consultation at 630-305-0222, or contact our team online.

Recent Family Law Results

During trial four experts all testified against our client the Judge found it was in the best interest of the child that our client be awarded custody. We have successfully represented clients in numerous child custody cases.

Child Custody

We recently analyzed a case whereby the opposing side was seeking a substantial award of maintenance against our client. After a thorough review of the facts and circumstances and several hearings, our client’s obligation to pay maintenance was limited to two years at half of what his former spouse was seeking.

Alimony (Maintenance/Support)

After our client voluntarily changed employment we were able to obtain a substantial reduction in child support payments. We have also stopped such reductions when representing clients receiving child support.

Child Support
Woodridge Illinois Law Firm

3321 Hobson Road, Suite B
Woodridge, IL 60517
Phone: 630-305-0222

1 North LaSalle Street, Suite 4200
Chicago, IL 60602
Phone: 312-388-7882

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