Estate Planning for Your Pet – What Pet Owners Should Know Before Writing Their Will

Wheaton will and trust attorneysWhen creating an estate plan, most people ensure their children and spouse are covered. Sadly, few people consider how their death could impact their furry family members. In fact, statistics indicate that only about 18 percent of pet owners have considered making provisions for their pet in their will. This oversight, which may be partially attributed to the fact that not everyone knows you can estate plan for a pet, often results in a poor outcome for beloved animals. Learn how you can prevent such a fate for your family pet using a pet trust or comprehensive estate plan, and discover how a seasoned estate planning lawyer can assist you with the estate planning process. 

Why Include Your Pet in an Estate Plan? 

In most states (including Illinois), pets are considered property. That means, if a pet owner dies, the animal is distributed like any other asset. Unfortunately, because a pet holds no financial benefit for the inheriting heir, it may be abandoned, surrendered, or neglected due to a lack of funds or desire to care for the animal. An estate plan can reduce the risk of such an issue occurring – and not just because the guarantor usually speaks with the inheriting party to ensure there is a desire to care for the pet, but because it often allows the pet owner to set up a fund that ensures the pet is well cared for, long after they are gone. Pet owners can also elect to set up alternate or subsequent guardians for their pet, just in case something should happen to the primary heir of the animal, such as a death, the birth of a child, or the development of allergies. 

How to Estate Plan for Your Pet

Creating an estate plan for an animal is a lot like making provisions for a child, but there are many special conditions and limitations that must be considered. For example, pet owners may be able to find a life insurance policy that can be left to the pet heir to ensure proper care of the animal, but these can be both difficult to find and costly – especially for older pet owners. Alternatively, the pet owner can set up a trust for the animal that covers the expected cost of vet bills, food, and grooming for the life of the pet. In either case, it is critical to ensure that the person receiving the money is interested not just in inheriting the funds, but also caring for the animal for the rest of its natural life. As such, it is highly recommended that pet owners take the time to discuss their wishes and desires with a potential pet heir to ensure they are both willing and able to accept the responsibility that comes with caring for a beloved pet. 

Contact Our Seasoned DuPage County Estate Planning Lawyers

At Stock, Carlson, Oldfield & McGrath, LLC, we prioritize the wishes and desires of our clients. Seasoned and experienced, our Wheaton estate planning attorneys can help you develop a comprehensive estate plan that covers all your family members – even the furry ones. Schedule a personalized consultation by calling 630-665-2500 today. 

Source:

https://www.petmd.com/dog/care/estate-planning-pets-why-you-should-do-it

 

Examining the Most Common Estate Planning Myths

Wheaton will and trust lawyersPeople may put off estate planning for a variety of reasons. Most are born out of estate planning myths – assumptions that simply are not true. Learn why estate planning is an important task for everyone, regardless of their situation, and discover how a seasoned estate planning lawyer can assist you with the process in the following sections. 

“Only the Rich Need an Estate Plan”

Perhaps one of the biggest estate planning misconceptions is that the process is only for the extremely wealthy. While, yes, a comprehensive estate plan is important for reducing the tax load of the wealthy, even those with moderate to small estates can benefit from the process. Often, people do not know their true value. They may have assets that they have forgotten about, or their savings and retirement accounts may have accrued more interest than expected. If the individual has children, this alone facilitates the creation of a will, as it is important that families ensure their children end up with the guardian or guardians they feel to be the most suitable. 

“Estate Plans Are Not Necessary Until Later in Life”

People often put off estate planning because they think it is not necessary until they start reaching retirement. Unfortunately, this can leave a family vulnerable to extreme loss and stress if a tragedy happens. A child may be left without a guardian if their parents pass away, an incapacitated individual may not have anyone to make medical or financial decisions for them, or a deceased individual’s retirement account may go to an ex-spouse instead of their children or current spouse. All these oversights, and more, can be avoided through careful estate planning. 

“I Only Need a Will to Protect My Family and Assets”

While a will can cover a great deal of your assets, it cannot handle all estate planning matters. A will does not cover joint assets, and it cannot override an account with a designated beneficiary. It is also important to note that a will does not necessarily cover you if you become incapacitated and unable to make medical or financial decisions for yourself. Instead, you would need other estate planning documents, such as a living will or power of attorney. 

Contact Our DuPage County Estate Planning Lawyers

With more than 40 years of experience, Stock, Carlson, Oldfield & McGrath, LLC knows what it takes to ensure that a party’s assets and heirs are protected once they have passed. We start by carefully examining your situation, and then we explain the estate planning process and documents in a way that help you fully understand your options so that you can create a comprehensive plan that suits your needs. Schedule your personalized consultation with our DuPage County estate planning lawyers by calling 630-665-2500 today. 

Source:

https://money.usnews.com/money/retirement/baby-boomers/articles/2018-07-05/6-common-myths-about-estate-planning

 

Understanding the Risks of DIY Estate Planning

Illinois estate planning lawyerIn a world where people are increasingly reliant upon the internet for their personal, financial, and business needs, do-it-yourself estate planning may seem like the fastest, easiest, and least expensive option for drafting a will or trust. Unfortunately, this is rarely the case. Do-it-yourself estate planning options can rarely accommodate the unique needs of individuals, and they can leave the surviving family susceptible to all sorts of complications. Learn more about the risks that one may assume under a DIY estate plan, and discover how the assistance of a seasoned estate planning lawyer can reduce the risk of probate issues for your loved ones.

Overlooking Potential Issues

In a DIY estate plan, individuals usually rely on the prompts of a computer. If they respond incorrectly, do not understand the verbiage of a specific question, or if the computer fails to ask the appropriate questions, there could be potential issues in the future. As an example, consider the estate plan in which one names only primary beneficiaries. If something happens to the named parties and a successor or contingent was not named, the estate could go to probate.

Complex Estate Planning Issues 

Families are far more diverse these days. In fact, many individuals are on their second or third marriages, and there are often children involved. How does one ensure that everyone receives their "fair share," or how can you prevent a spouse from taking assets that are intended to go to children? To answer this question simply: such issues are best discussed with a lawyer, rather than a computer, especially if there is a substantial amount of money at stake.

Guardianship Naming is a Complex Issue

Parents often assume that a DIY will is sufficient for naming a guardian. Sadly, this is not always  the case. There are scenarios in which parents may need a more complex document to ensure the safety and well-being of their child. For example, consider a scenario in which the primary guardian dies shortly after the child's natural parents. If a successive guardian has not been named, the child could experience the very same fate that his or her parents were trying to avoid.

Probate is More Common with DIY Estate Plans

Estate plans that are drafted with the assistance of an attorney are far from iron-clad, but they are still far less susceptible to probate than a DIY estate plan. Part of this can be attributed to the more comprehensive nature of lawyer-assisted estate plans, but another reason that such estate plans are more effective at preventing probate is that people are also less likely to challenge an estate that was drafted in the presence of an attorney.

Contact Our DuPage County Estate Planning Lawyers

If you need assistance with an estate plan, contact Stock, Carlson, Oldfield & McGrath, LLC for assistance. Dedicated and experienced, our DuPage County estate planning lawyers can help you create a personalized legal document that reduces the risk of probate for your heirs. Call 630-665-2500 to schedule your personalized consultation today.

Source:

https://www.wsj.com/articles/diy-estate-planning-has-its-risks-1502071680