Probate and Ways to Avoid Probate

When people die with wills there are still accounts to settle.  Probate is a court process which distributes and manages your estate according to your terms.  It sounds like it should be an easy transition but in reality probate can take anywhere between 3 months to 2 years.

There are also costs associated with probate proceedings.  The list of costs comprises; appraisal fees, bond premiums, attorney and accountant fees, executor's fees, publication costs for legal notices, and court costs.  In Illinois, there are numerous options available to make this transition easier for your loved ones by avoiding probate altogether.

Living trusts offer a way to avoid probate for nearly every asset.  It requires a trust document which is similar to a will.  This document names a trustee who will be responsible for transferring your estate to your beneficiaries and avoid probate.

Joint ownership is another way to transfer property if it is owned by you and someone else.  This type of ownership includes a "right of survivorship" which transfers the property when one owner dies.  This is also accomplished with joint bank accounts.

Various accounts such as bank accounts, investment accounts, retirement accounts, and life insurance have the ability to be payable on death.  POD accounts usually require one form to be filled out by the account holder.  This effectively avoids because the beneficiary only needs to prove the death and their identity to collect the assets.

For more ways to limit or avoid the costly probate process, it is essential to consult a professional who can identify your specific needs.  Contact an experienced estate planning attorney in DuPage County to review your current estate plan.

The Most Cost Effective Way to Give Money

Birthdays. Christmas. Showers. What do all three have in common? The ability for the giver to enjoy seeing the receiver's reaction and joy to the gift given to them and knowing what they just gave made someone else happy. What a feeling. It is true that it is better to give than to receive in that regard.

If your love language is gift-giving, look into giving your financial contributions and gifts NOW instead of after your death. Wills are great and so is making sure people and organizations get what you worked a lifetime for, but, there are opportunities for you to see your hard earned money bless others today.

Krysia 1-21-13There are two very easy ways to go about this. First, is to pay either medical or educational bills – unlimited expenses! Just make sure you give directly to the institution on behalf of the person you wish to help. That means college, doctors, hospitals, medication – expenses anyone would appreciate the help with! Second, is to give no more than $13,000 per person per year. Yes! That means you can select as many people you would like to give each $13,000 a year to! Just remember that you do have a lifetime to give $1 million without paying taxes.

To setup and or to plan out your finances prior to your passing contact a DuPage County lawyer who will clearly explain your options and help you plan it all out. A knowledgeable and helpful attorney makes the process easier and most importantly, enjoyable to experience!

What to Consider When Appointing a Trustee

Estate planning isn't easy, no matter what level of assets you have. It's important for every family to have a plan of what to do with assets upon death, no matter what level of income or the closeness of family relationships. A trustee is a person (or a member of a board) who is given control of powers of administration of property. This is usually a trusted family member or child. Hiring a competent estate-planning attorney is the most important step to planning your estate, but there are many factors to consider when appointing a trustee. 

The first, according to Probate & Property, a publication of the American Bar Association, is to consider the legal capacity of whomever you'd be interested in appointing as your trustee. It should go without saying that only competent adults can be appointed as trustee—a child cannot be appointed until he or she is of legal age. Laws vary slightly from state to state, especially if the trustee you're interested in appointing is a charitable organization or other financial institution. This is something to discuss with an Illinois estate-planning attorney.

On a more personal level, according to Probate & Property, is to consider the specific personalities and skills of the individual who you're interested in appointing. These characteristics include "judgment, experience, impartiality, investment sophistication and track record, availability, accounting and record-keeping ability, and potential conflicts of interest." Appointing a trustee who understands capital gains is important, considering the recent Uniform Principal and Income Act, which "gives the trustee the ability to allocate some or all capital gains in a particular year to trust income." Family drama and relationships need to be taken into consideration as well—will one child create conflict for the other if he or she is named trustee (or not).

If you or someone you know has not yet begun the estate planning process, it's a great New Year's resolution and one to not be taken lightly. Contact an Illinois estate-planning attorney today.

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