The Importance of Updating Your Will After a Divorce

divorce, DuPage County estate planning lawyerHave you drafted and signed a will that outlines your wishes regarding your property and other concerns in the event that you were to die unexpectedly? If so, you are in a better position than most American adults are. In fact, recent estimates suggest that approximately 60 percent of adults in the United States have no formal estate plan in place—not even a basic will. Having a will is a good thing, of course, but it is important to remember that certain life events can have a dramatic impact on the applicability of your existing estate plan. If you are considering a divorce, you will need to think about how it will affect your estate plan.

Your Ex-Spouse in Your Will

It is common for a married person to name his or her spouse as an heir in his or her will. In fact, many married individuals decide that their entire estate should go to their surviving spouse. Additionally, a person could also appoint his or her spouse to serve as the executor of the estate.

According to the Illinois Probate Act, if you divorce your spouse with a valid will still in place, your will remains valid and enforceable. However, the provisions in your will pertaining to your spouse are revoked automatically once the divorce is finalized. Such provisions include any appointments, nominations, responsibilities, and, intended inheritances. As a practical matter, the law treats the situation as if your spouse passed away before you did.

Making the Changes

Once your divorce is finalized, you will need to update any sections of your will that made reference to your former spouse. You might even wish to do so before the divorce actually finalizes. If you were to die before the divorce decree is issued, the provisions in your will that pertain to your spouse are not revoked because you were not divorced. If you do decide to amend your will prior to your divorce finalizing, remember that you will probably need to make more changes later after the distribution of marital property is complete.

You should also keep in mind that the automatic revocation of provisions only pertains to your spouse. If you have named your stepchildren or in-laws as heirs or fiduciaries, those provisions will remain in effect until you actively change them.

It is possible to keep your ex as an heir or a fiduciary in your will if you choose to do so. For example, you might trust your former spouse with managing your estate, or you may want him or her to have certain assets. In order to do so, you must draft and sign a new version of your will that includes your ex-spouse after the divorce decree is issued.

A Wheaton Wills Attorney Can Help

For more information about how your divorce might affect your will, contact an experienced DuPage County estate planning lawyer. Call 630-665-2500 to schedule a confidential consultation at Stock, Carlson, Oldfield & McGrath LLC today.

 

Source:

http://ilga.gov/legislation/ilcs/ilcs5.asp?ActID=2104&ChapterID=60

Common Estate Planning Myths Debunked

myths, Wheaton estate planning lawyerA survey conducted by the American Association of Retired Persons (AARP) shows that only about 40 percent of Americans have a will, trust, power of attorney, or other estate planning document in place. There are countless reasons that so many adults have neglected to create their estate plan. One reason is that many people do not understand the benefits that estate planning can offer them and their families. Some may only have a vague notion of what estate planning even entails and feel too overwhelmed by legal jargon to research estate planning further. Television and movies have not presented estate planning in a very positive light either. There are many myths and misunderstandings surrounding estate planning which are simply not true.

Myth: I Do Not Need to Worry About Estate Planning Until I am Older

When most people imagine someone writing a will, an image of an elderly or sick person comes to mind. The truth is that waiting until you are older to start formulating estate plans is a poor idea for several reasons. The validity of a will can be questioned if the person writing the will, called the testator, is not of sound mind due to advanced age or cognitive decline.

Secondly, estate planning does not only deal with what happens to a person’s debts and assets after they die. For example, some estate planning instruments can allow you to choose a guardian for your minor children if anything should happen to you and your children’s other parent. While it is unpleasant to think about, accidents happen every day and it is better to be safe rather than sorry.

Myth: Only Rich People Need Estate Plans

While it is true that higher value estates and estates containing complex assets require more extensive estate planning, the reality is that every adult can benefit from some type of estate planning – regardless of wealth or status. For example, many people have strong beliefs about end-of-life medical care. They do not want to be kept alive via a ventilator or feeding tube if they are in a vegetative state. Others wish to sign a “do not resuscitate” order, or a “DNR,” for personal reasons. Still others wish to dictate exactly what types of death-delaying medical treatment they consent to and what they do not want if they ever become incapacitated. Estate planning allows you to make these types of decisions in advance.

Myth: I Do Not Need to Worry About Estate Planning Because My Loved Ones Can Handle it

Losing a relative or close friend is one of the most heartbreaking life events a person can experience. When an individual does not have any estate plans to dictate what happens to their assets and debt upon passing away, this responsibility falls to their surviving loved ones. This can be a difficult burden for them to bear, especially when they have just experienced a loss. Making decisions about your healthcare and finances in advance saves your family from having to make these decisions on your behalf.

Contact a Wheaton, Illinois Estate Planning Lawyer

If you want to learn more about how estate planning can benefit you and your family, contact an experienced DuPage County estate planning attorney at Stock, Carlson, Oldfield and McGrath LLC. Schedule a confidential consultation by calling 630-665-2500 today.

Sources:

https://www.aarp.org/money/investing/info-2017/half-of-adults-do-not-have-wills.html

https://www.moneycrashers.com/legal-myths-estate-planning-wills-trusts/

How a Special Needs Trust Can Benefit You and Your Family

special needs, DuPage County estate planning attorneysIt can be terribly challenging to plan for a time when you are not around to care for your loved ones. However, facing this reality by making an estate plan is one of the most selfless actions you can take. This is an especially true if you have a child, sibling, or other close loved one who has a serious disability. If you have been responsible for caring for a loved one who cannot care for himself or herself, you may want to find a way of providing for him or her after you pass away. One way to do just this is through an estate planning tool called a special needs trust.

Planning for the Care of a Loved One with Special Needs

A special needs trust or supplemental needs trust is an estate planning instrument that can be critically important to individuals who have a disabled loved one in their care. This instrument works by allowing the caregiver to place funds in the trust, which can then be used for the future care of their disabled loved one. A special needs trust allows you to put aside money for your loved one without affecting the disabled person’s eligibility for government assistance programs. Special needs trusts can be funded through gifts and inheritances or a lump-sum settlement. Without a special needs trust, money left to your loved one could potential disqualify him or her for certain government aid programs.

Leaving Money to a Loved One Could Increase His or Her Available Assets Too Much

The majority of government-funded aid is distributed to individuals under a certain income level. For example, Medicaid, Supplemental Security Income, and housing subsidies all have income criteria that a person must meet in order to qualify for the financial assistance. If you leave money to your disabled loved one without the appropriate estate planning instrument, it could be counted toward his or her available assets. If the funds are substantial, this money could bump your loved one’s income up to a level which makes him or her ineligible for programs with income or asset limits.

A properly-drafted special needs trust helps you ensure that your disabled loved one will receive the funds he or she needs in a way that does not jeopardize participation in other government assistance programs. Ideally, a special needs trust will help your disabled family member enjoy a high quality of life even after you have passed away.

Contact a Wheaton, Illinois Estate Planning Attorney for Help

Drafting a special needs trust or other estate planning instrument can be quite complex. For quality legal assistance from a knowledgeable DuPage County estate planning lawyer, contact Stock, Carlson, Oldfield and McGrath LLC. Schedule a consultation by calling 630-665-2500 today.

 

Sources:

http://www.americanbar.org/content/dam/aba/publishing/rpte_ereport/te_lewis.authcheckdam.pdf

http://www.americanbar.org/newsletter/publications/law_trends_news_practice_area_e_newsletter_home/0501_estate_financialplanning.html