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Illinois Estate Planning And Probate Legal Blog

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.

Illinois estate planning: Avert a fight among adult kids

There is nothing that ruffles feathers more with adult children than thinking they've been given the short end of the stick when it comes to a parent's will. Family members in Illinois have disagreements with each other over many things, but when it comes to money and other valuables normally included in estate planning, things can get pretty ugly. Parents can be generous in what they leave their adult children, but it may be wise for them to discuss things with their grown kids so as not to leave any surprises.

Because of the economic climate these days, there may be instances when parents have to dip into their savings to help an adult child in need. This is an area that could cause disagreements in the future. When parents open the communication lines with their adult kids on their estate plans, there is room to ask questions and query certain things. Hurt feelings may be prevented by having this often difficult, but necessary talk.

Estate planning in Illinois when second families are involved

Divorced people may find new leases on life with remarriage and an extended family. Proper estate planning can help Illinois residents who have remarried to keep the peace in their second families. Making a determination of what assets belong to each individual and which are shared may be the first place to start, especially if the two people are older and have amassed their own assets.

Having a family conversation about a potential estate plan may enlighten those in blended families. Getting input from children and stepchildren may bring issues to light that weren't even considered. Reviewing any plans from previous relationships is a must as well since there may still be obligations in place that could affect a current spouse such as being unable to change a beneficiary designation on a retirement plan.

The issues in Illinois that surround joint wills

Married couples often want to do pretty much everything with each other. That often includes the way in which they do estate planning, which can include the writing of joint wills primarily so that everything will be left to the surviving spouse. In Illinois, a joint will can't be changed or revoked by just one spouse; both have to agree to any changes.

Joint wills were primarily used years ago before the advances in technology. It was easier to fashion one will, rather than two separate ones with all the paperwork that would have been involved. However, the fact the will cannot be altered without the approval of each spouse is the primary disadvantage of having a joint will today. That means that even if one partner dies, the will can't be changed by the surviving spouse.

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.