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Illinois Estate Planning And Probate Legal Blog

Choosing the right estate planning methods in Illinois

Individuals who want to keep their affairs private may want to think about what kinds of estate plans they're writing. Illinois residents in the throes of estate planning need to know that there are differences between will-based estate plans and those built around trusts. In a nutshell, information included in wills becomes public record once the testator dies. Trusts, on the other hand, remain private.

Instructions in a will usually go through probate and once that happens, everything in it becomes open to public scrutiny. People know who was left what and who was left nothing. Names of everyone in the will can easily be accessed. Anyone who walks into the probate court can have access to the will to see what the testator owned and owed.

Estate planning isn't just for Illinois residents with children

Not all people have children. Illinois residents who don't have kids still need to take the time for estate planning. People still need to stipulate how they would like their assets divided upon their deaths since dying intestate -- or without a will -- can cause all kinds of problems whether there are children in the picture or not.

The spouse of a married person who dies usually inherits assets if there are no children, yet it is still crucial to have estate planning documents in place. Single people without children who die need to make it known who their beneficiaries should be or the assets could end up going to someone the deceased would not have chosen. All estate plans should at least contain wills and powers of attorney.

Estate planning: Keeping documents safe from disaster

With the numbers of disasters happening in the world today -- fires, tsunamis, earthquakes, hurricanes and others -- individuals may be thinking about how to make their important estate documents ready for a possible apocalypse. In the blink of an eye, life can change. Illinois residents may want to make sure than any estate planning they've done reflects unforeseen events. 

Individuals should have a plan for being able to access their estate planning documents should they find themselves in dire straits, where they are either forced out of their homes or lose their houses altogether. Storing all important information safely is a necessity and people should not rely on a computer to do so in case those files are lost. Writing down all passwords and account information and having documents stored properly is crucial. A safety deposit box might meet those needs. 

Long term care planning: Choosing a financially feasible option

It has been said that getting old is not for the faint of heart. It's a fact of life that most Illinois residents face, and aging in good health is a blessing. Long term care planning can go a long way to ensuring good health in senior years; however, plans have to be put into place before they're needed. When people can no longer make decisions for themselves, there must be some sort of documentation that stipulates their wishes.

If seniors would like to stay in their own homes, they need to make that known, but more importantly they need to financially plan for it. Although assisted living has its positives, it can also have a down side, such as the potential for elder abuse. Everything comes with a price tag, whether it's at home care or living in a nursing home where costs can be astronomical -- more than $7,000 a month for a semi-private room and more than $8,000 a month for a private room.

What about dividing assets unequally in estate planning?

Equality seems to be the best course of action for most everything. When it pertains to estate planning, Illinois residents may benefit from knowing that splitting assets equally among their adult children can go a long way to ensure siblings maintain positive relationships when their parents are gone. It has been shown that it doesn't matter if one sibling is in a better financial state than the other, leaving more to one than to another can be seen as unfair, unloving and may create a lot of tension and resentment.

The best course of action for anyone in the throes of estate planning is to communicate openly with his or her adult children. Yes, they are adults, but when it comes to parental approval, there is always a child lurking someone inside an adult. Discussing plans with adult children and getting their input may be a wise idea and help them to feel like they're important in such serious decision-making. 

Estate planning is for all socio economic backgrounds

Many folks are under the misconception that they need to be wealthy to have estate plans. But that's not the case. Estate planning in Illinois is important for all social classes, and it is especially important when children are involved. People who don't want the government to have a say in how they're assets are distributed really should look into getting an estate plan in place.

State intestacy laws will dictate how assets will be distributed should someone die without a will. They will more than likely pass to the nearest living relative, which would be a spouse if there is one surviving. If not, then children are next in line followed by parents and siblings. If that doesn't bode well with someone, he or she needs to at least write a will.

Setting up trusts in Illinois with limited income

Contrary to popular belief, setting up a trust account isn't just for the rich. Trusts can also be utilized by Illinois residents who have a little money set aside and who want to put them to work for the future benefit of their beneficiaries. Those who have accumulated a little nest egg may benefit from looking into trusts.

Some family members may not be great with finances and setting up a trust will ensure they will be able to manage what they're left by getting a little at a time, rather than getting everything in one lump sum. By the same token, a living irrevocable trust can continue giving for generations if set up properly. Assets in this type of trust can come from cash, stocks or real estate and once assets are in the trust, they are managed by a trustee.

Being proactive, not reactive, about long term care planning

Getting old is not for the faint of heart nor, apparently, is it for those with light pocketbooks. When it comes to long term care planning, Illinois residents should really take the time to think about the future and the possibilities that might come. Planning ahead may ensure being able to deal with unforeseen circumstances. Even if long term care is never needed, it's a wise idea to have a plan in place. 

Enlisting people who may be able to provide answers such as a financial planner and a lawyer experienced in estate planning and elder law is a good place to start. Long term care planning isn't just for the elderly. It is also for curve balls life throws such as what would happen if someone should be involved in a serious accident, which can happen at any age. 

Insurance not necessary for long term care planning

Insurance is not mandatory when it come to planning for the future. Illinois residents who are thinking about long term care planning have other options aside from purchasing basic long term care insurance policies. Besides, many of these insurance companies are becoming pickier about who they accept to insure.

Nursing homes aren't the only option. By having people come into a senior's home to provide care, it may be better overall if he or she is in relatively good health. Many older people don't do well in an institutionalized setting and thrive with assisted living. If a pension exists, it, and Social Security might do to pay for long term care, as might withdrawing funds from an Individual Retirement Account.

Federal government laws give new uses to trusts

For those who haven't revamped their estate plans since the Trump administration, perhaps they should seriously consider it. Since Donald Trump's government made changes to federal tax laws, Illinois residents will find they will be able to leave more tax-free assets to their beneficiaries. Trusts, although still useful in many respects, may not be the only way of tax sheltering wealth. 

As the law stands now, people can bequeath a touch more than $11 million to their children or to non-charitable heirs with being slapped with a federal estate or gift tax. But financial planners have found a way for each spouse to be able to do the same, which means that amount doubles to $22 million. As for trusts, they can also be used now to reduce income taxes.