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Illinois Estate Planning And Probate Legal Blog

Long term care planning: Taking care of aging parents in Illinois

Time waits for no one. And as much as children don't like to think about it, their parents will get old and may need their help. Long term care planning in Illinois is essential for helping the elderly to continue to lead productive, independent lives. When that is no longer a possibility, planning can ensure senior citizens are given the best care possible when they can no longer care for themselves.

Such planning can also help in ascertaining the financial aspects of possible long term care. For example, a private room in a nursing home can cost more than $8,000 a month in some instances with a semi-private room averaging more than $7,000 a month. Waiting too long may cause undue financial hardship on a family looking for a facility for an elderly parent.

Your estate planning needs change after divorce

Going through a divorce requires careful focus on settlement agreements, child custody arrangements and any related payments each person might owe. Once the somewhat lengthy process of ending a marriage is complete most people in Illinois are ready to sit back and take a rest from paperwork and planning, but this is shortsighted. Estate planning needs change along with major life events, such as marriage, the birth of a child and divorce.

It is important for individuals to update their wills after getting divorced. Exactly what changes are necessary will depend on each person and their relationship with their ex-spouse. For those making a clean break, completely removing their ex is usually the best idea. But what about parents who share custody with an ex? Leaving an ex in the will even if only to specify guardianship of a minor child is a usually a good idea.

Estate planning and blended families in Illinois

The definition of family is not as cut and dried in the 21st century as it was in the earlier part of the 20th century. With divorce and remarriage more prevalent, some Illinois residents may find themselves in blended family situations. Estate planning in these instances might be tricky, but the process may be less so when armed with the right information.

For those who have remarried and who wish to leave their children from their first marriage something after they pass away, it is extremely important to leave a will with that detailed directive. The spouses of those who die without wills or trusts will usually retain control over the deceased partners' assets, and if children aren't formally mentioned in a will, the surviving spouse, by default rules of the state, does not technically have to share those assets with his or her partner's children from a prior relationship. About 55 percent of Americans do not have an estate plan that includes a will, so they will die intestate.

Avoidable Illinois estate planning misconceptions

Planning an estate can seem like a daunting task. Estate planning in Illinois can get even more tricky when people are armed with information that isn't exactly factual. But there is good news in that these common faux pas can be avoided armed with the proper knowledge. The first of these is that estate planning is just for the wealthy when, in fact, it's for everyone of most any age, including younger people.

A will is an all-important document in an estate plan, but there is some misinformation surrounding these documents as well. For instance, it's thought that if someone writes a will, his or her heirs won't have to worry about probate. A will provides a court with guidance as to the last wishes of the testator, but a will may be contested in which case it would have to go through the probate process. As well, having a trust doesn't mean an estate will sidestep probate either.  

How to avoid making mistakes when writing wills in Illinois

There comes a time in every adult's life when they begin thinking about what would happen if they were no longer on the planet. When life changes happen -- like marriage or the birth of children -- that's when many Illinois residents may give thought to writing their wills. There are a few things people might do or neglect to do when beginning the will-writing journey.

First, some people fail to have their wills witnessed after having signed it themselves. The will should be dated, signed by the testator -- the one who wrote the will -- and properly witnessed by at least two people older than 16 years of age and not related to the testator. The witness also needs to comprehend what he or she is signing.

Long-term care planning: Clearing up the misconceptions

Time waits for no one. Everyone gets older and with that may come the need for care. Illinois residents who are young and vibrant and even those in mid-life don't usually think about long term care planning. But the truth is there are some pretty big misconceptions about long-term care and one of the major ones is that many individuals believe they won't have a need for it.

A recent marketing showed that most respondents didn't feel they would need long-term care in their old age. Those who did really didn't understand the dynamics of care or the actual cost. Most people taking part in the survey believed that a private room in a nursing home would cost about $54,000 a year, though it's more like $102,000. And even though many believed that they would be cared for by family members who could handle the emotional aspects of care, the truth is most caregivers -- 84 percent in fact -- started that the emotional burden of caring for someone was great. Another alarming fact the survey turned up was that financial planners are mentioning long-term planning less and less to those who are planning their estates.

Estate planning: Leaving a messy estate could cause problems

The last thing people want is to leave a mess for loved ones after they've passed away. But that is exactly what could happen if someone leaves a messy estate. So, those intent on comprehensive estate planning in Illinois, would be wise to ensure all the i's are dotted and all the t's are crossed. When family members are left sorting through every item of clothing and looking in every crack and crevice for something that might have been saved, it may only add to their stress when they're already grieving.

When people take the time to go through their possessions and either earmark them for an individual person and get rid of those items they aren't using and don't believe anyone else will either, it may make estate administration an easier process. Beneficiaries -- most likely loved ones -- will appreciate the effort. It may be wise to do the same thing with assets. Consolidation may be wise in more ways than one.

Proper writing of wills could keep the peace in Illinois families

Most people would like to leave something to their loved ones after they pass away. But there may be some downsides to the contents of wills that may cause some serious family squabbles, pitting loved ones against loved ones. So, in Illinois, communicating clearly to adult children what an estate plan includes could mean the difference between bringing siblings together or tearing them apart.

Most parents can cause a rift between their children without meaning to because of their estate plans. Dividing everything evenly among children isn't always necessarily the best way to proceed. Testators can leave their assets to whomever they wish, but experts say communicating wishes to loved ones prior to death may avoid horrible family spats.

Why it's important to update estate planning documents

Going through the time-consuming task of fashioning an estate plan may fall short if that plan isn't updated as life changes. Estate planning documents in Illinois should always be as current as possible and should reflect current life situations. Amassing documents like a will and storing them in a safety deposit box for decades without ever looking at them again may be doing beneficiaries a great disservice.

The only constant in life is change. People get married, people get divorced, babies are born and people die. if estate planning documents don't reflect those changes, it may cause angst for loved ones when the testator dies. As a rule of thumb, estate planning documents should be reviewed about every three years, and sooner when significant life events occur.

A popular 60s movie teaches about long term care planning

The original Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory has a few scenes in it that might make people think about what they would do if they were bedridden. All four of Charlie's grandparents share a four-poster bed since none of them can walk. Long term care planning could likely have avoided such a situation. In fact, the movie gives some good lessons about health care planning for the long haul for Illinois residents.

People are living longer today, and consequently, most people will need long term care at some point in their lives. Some people will only need care for a short period, while others may need it for most of the older years and within an institutional setting. As the population ages, more services related to long term care will be needed.