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Illinois Estate Planning And Probate Legal Blog

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.

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.