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Illinois Estate Planning And Probate Legal Blog

Estate planning: When Illinois residents have chronic illnesses

When people are dealing with a chronic illness -- or a beloved family member is -- there are things that should be discussed even when discussing them can be delicate. Life is unpredictable in the best of circumstances, but for Illinois residents who live with chronic illness, it may be even more so. But having a talk about estate planning may be one of the most important talks in these instances. 

Estate planning should reflect a chronic illness. Currently, more than 130 million Americans are living with some sort of illness that affects them daily and the older people get, the more likely they are to become sufferers. If a chronic illness affects a person's understanding and cognitive behavior any current estate planning documents should likely reflect those changes. For instance, if a person is diagnosed with dementia, changes should be made to an estate plan while he or she still has the mental capacity to do so.

DIY may not be the wisest choice for living trusts in Illinois

There are some things that can be taken on as do-it-yourself projects. Writing revocable living trusts isn't one of them. Illinois residents who understand the benefits and importance of trusts might do well to get legal advice before embarking of doing anything themselves since writing such a document can come with its own set of complexities.

Trusts allow grantors to transfer property after they die without having to go through the process of probate. These trusts also guarantee the privacy of the grantor -- something that wills do not afford. Since estate plans can be as individual as the persons to whom they belong, a cookie-cutter plan for a living trust is not the wisest idea. Kits do not address the individual needs of grantors and as such are as simplistic as possible, which could cause beneficiaries more grief in the long run.

Long term care planning: Helping Illinois middle income earners

It's becoming more difficult for middle-income earners to stay afloat. Older Illinois middle income earners may find it especially difficult to shell out the needed funds that may accompany care in old age -- for things like housing and health care. By 2029, the oldest of the baby boomer generation will be reaching their early 80s which is the time when extended care may be needed. Long term care planning for these people likely has been a problem.

If these folks -- many of whom have earned a middle income wage in their lives -- don't have a home in which they've built up equity, they will find it extremely difficult to pay for the care they might need at some point. The cost of care is escalating. The average cost of care per month is $4,000 and even seniors who have Medicare may need to dig deep. Experts say one of the ways in which to help these seniors is for insurance companies to make premiums more affordable for those who are in their 50s.

FLPs and LLCs in estate planning

There are three significant tax issues that could affect an individual's estate plan. For Illinois residents thinking about estate planning, those issues include tax faux pas that could be financially costly in the long run. Not taking advantage of Family Limited Partnerships (FLPs) and Limited Liability Companies (LLCs), may thwart a person's ability to have control over investments and distributions of wealth.

There are certain requirements to be met when taking advantage of either of these tax incentives. Not adhering to the rules could jeopardize the reason for their existence in the first place. For instance, personal assets should be kept separate from business or entity assets. If these assets are commingled, the IRS may negate the benefits of FLPs or LLCs.

Helping illinois women to be comfortable with estate planning

People may spend time thinking about their loved ones being all right and taken care of after they have died. Illinois women, especially, may worry about their children, and who will look after matters when they are no longer around to do so. A leading health care organization in Illinois recently told a number of women who attended a talk that estate planning is conducive to positive mental and physical health.

More than 70% of the population in the United States do not having any estate planning documents in place. It's important for people to understand their importance. Many people just don't know where to begin when it comes to estate planning, but it doesn't have to be a daunting task, hence the need for seminars and information sessions that can help women to get the information they need to start.

Changes can impact estate planning needs

Change occurs on a regular basis. The makeup of the Illinois family can change as the result of birth, death, marriage or divorce. Additionally, the financial situation that each family finds themselves in can change due to changes in income, investments, tax laws and a number of other factors. With this in mind, it is imperative that each individual also recognize the need to review his or her estate planning portfolio in order to analyze how these types of changes will impact the family and ultimate desires of the individual.

One of the first steps in the estate planning process is to create a will specifying what assets the individual owns and who should inherit these assets. However, over time, these assets can change and/or circumstances may occur  that indicate the need to modify beneficiary information. For example, a change in family status due to birth, death or divorce may indicate the need to modify who should inherit. Without this modification, it is possible that unintended emotional and financial turmoil may be the result and the individual's final wishes may not be carried out.

Long term care planning: About LTC insurance

Life has a way of throwing the most difficult curve balls. Illinois residents who are thinking about long term care planning should have some knowledge about long term care (LTC) insurance and how it can benefit them when it comes to getting care in advancing years. Just a little more than seven million Americans have LTC insurance which covers things not covered by Medicare.

Terms for traditional policies today usually include a monetary figure for coverage in a nursing home. There is a waiting period of about three months for insurance to begin for about three years of coverage. The problem is that not many people want to buy such insurance, so few firms are selling it. Premiums are usually around $2,700 a year, which many Americans can't afford. Those with few assets may be able to utilize Medicaid to cover long term care costs.

Estate planning especially crucial for Illinois entrepreneurs

Business owners need to take extra precautions to safeguard their assets. Illinois entrepreneurs must be most mindful in their estate planning documents to take steps to ensure the protection of their businesses when they are no longer at the helm. Many business owners are so focused on running their businesses that they forget to take the time to draft important documents such as wills, financial powers of attorney or living trusts. 

When there is a need to transfer the financial authority of a business to another person, a financial power of attorney is needed. A business owner never knows when he or she will no longer be able to make essential decisions. The person acting in this capacity can do things like pay bills and make any other pertinent financial arrangements for the business. 

Illinois estate planning: Inheriting a home

Individuals writing estate plans have much to think about when it comes to their assets and who should inherit what. Illinois residents who are in the throes of estate planning may be home owners, and leaving real estate to a loved one or loved ones takes some careful planning. There are some important things to know, too, for those who will be inheriting or who have already inherited a home.

The first major decision, when on the receiving end of real estate, is to decide whether to keep the home or to sell it. While the beneficiary is pondering this, it's crucial, if no one is living in the residence, to make sure it looks as though someone is and to make sure the property continues to be insured. If the beneficiary chooses not to move into the home, he or she could always lease the property if it has sentimental value and the person doesn't want to part with it just yet, if ever.

Karl Lagerfeld's death brings up estate planning for pet care

The late fashion designer Karl Lagerfeld adored his beloved cat, Choupette. Like many Illinois pet owners, Lagerfeld likely included providing for the welfare of his furry family member in his estate planning. His cat was like a fashion accessory and he rarely went anywhere without her. In fact, the feline has her own Instagram account, does a bit of modeling and has a coffee table book. The fashion icon's death brings up the question of how pet owners should plan for the care of their pets should their pets outlive them.

About 85 million families in the United States have pets that are considered family members. As such, those who plan their estates may wish to give thought to making caregiver and financial arrangements for their pets -- whether they may be cats, dogs, birds, lizards or any other creatures. Gifting a pet to a friend or family member doesn't ensure the animal will be cared for. Those who want to make sure their pets continue to live happy lives should discuss care options with the people they are considering naming as guardians of their pets.