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Illinois Estate Planning And Probate Legal Blog

Safeguarding long term care planning documents

Taking the time to plan for unforeseen future events also means keeping the documents safe upon which those plans are written. Illinois residents who have taken the time for long term care planning should have those documents well-organized and in a safe place accessible for when the time comes. Not having documents at the ready could create a nightmare situation for the person who has written them and for their family members. 

Long term care planning documents could include the wishes of the person writing such plans and may provide instructions for individual care depending on health issues and needs. A care plan is a written document that records the outcome of the care planning process which includes communication with the parties involved such as family members and health care practitioners. Such a plan can be reviewed as life changes or when health changes. Some experts suggest a plan should be reviewed yearly.

The usefulness of flexibility in trusts

There is more to building a complete estate plan than simply writing a will and putting it on a shelf for years. Illinois residents may welcome the flexibility that trusts can provide in their estate plans. But these trusts should be built to be flexible so that they can change as life circumstances change and tax laws change over the years. 

There are three issues about which individuals should be concerned when it comes to trusts in an estate plan: trustee discretion, decanting and a trust protector. Discretionary trusts essentially spell out when, if and how beneficiaries will get their funds. Rules a trustee must follow can be built right into the trust. The trustee for a discretionary trust has the authority to decide if, how much and when to distribute assets to the beneficiaries of the trust. 

Long term care planning: Separation may be better than divorce

Couples who are thinking about divorce have many things to ponder. One of those may be how divorcing could affect long term care planning efforts. Illinois couples who are 55 years of age of older and who are contemplating divorce may do better separating instead of ending things formally when it comes to having enough financially for care as they continue to age. 

This is especially true for couples who don't have health care coverage. People are living longer these days, and divorce could seriously eat away at a person's savings – savings which would have been used for long term care. Women are particularly affected since many who have left marriages too early may still be too young to access a spouse's retirement or disability benefits. If a former spouse has died, access to those funds is only an option if the couple was married for 10 or more years at the time of their divorce.

Estate planning and foreign assets

With the world getting technologically smaller, more people are investing in foreign markets. When it comes to estate planning in Illinois, residents who do have foreign assets need to be aware of how to handle them in their estate plans. Whether it's owning a castle in Europe, a vineyard in the foreign sun or high-end sports cars overseas, global assets need to be structured in such a way as to offset paying the highest taxes possible.

Getting help from an expert like a lawyer, accountant or financial advisor is probably a wise move before buying that foreign villa in the sun. All assets should be declared in an estate plan and that includes foreign interests. Keeping them hidden may only cause grief for beneficiaries and estate administrators when the time comes.

How trusts can be beneficial to estate planning

Many people believe that a trust is a trust is a trust. But that's not really so. There are differences in various trusts -- as an Illinois lawyer would be able to explain; however, a living trust may be just the ticket for some individuals to consider when they're doing their estate planning. A living trust is called living since its inception is during the life of the grantor. Such trusts can either be revocable or irrevocable and as the names imply, one can be changed, while the other can't be.

Living trusts can help to reduce estate taxes -- just one of the reasons for their popularity. They can also help parents to control how much money grown children get and offer protection for minor children. Payments of assets can be staggered or offered in a lump sum -- that's up to the grantor. Trusts also avoid the probate process  if fed by a grantor's assets consistently over a lifetime. 

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.