No Children? Do Not Skip the Estate Planning Process

Joliet wills and trusts lawyersPeople who do not have children often assume that their assets will go directly to their spouse, so an estate plan is not needed. Unfortunately, nothing could be further from the truth. Learn why it is still important that you consider the future of your estate, even when you do not have children, and discover how an experienced wills and trusts lawyer can assist you with the development of your estate plan.

What Happens to Assets When You Do Not Have an Estate Plan?

When someone dies without a valid will or trust in place, their assets typically go to their spouse. Unfortunately, there are situations that could prevent them from obtaining the assets. Examples include an ex-spouse that is still listed as a beneficiary on a retirement plan and probate challenges from extended family members who were not intended beneficiaries.

If the individual does not have a spouse, the courts may assign a trustee to the estate until beneficiaries can be found. If there are multiple beneficiaries, the matter may go to probate. In this instance, the value of the estate may be depleted once it reaches the beneficiaries. Thankfully, both issues can be prevented with a well-crafted estate plan.

How an Estate Plan Protects Your Assets After Death

Rather than allowing your estate to be handled by the courts and the trustees it assigns, you can draft a comprehensive estate plan that outlines your final wishes. Doing this not only helps to eliminate any confusion about where your assets should go, but it also reduces the risk of some of the more common after-death estate issues, and it decreases the chances that your estate will go to probate.

You can also name alternative beneficiaries in your estate plan. This reduces the risk of your assets going to unintended parties if your primary beneficiary passes away before your estate can be distributed. An example of this happening would be if your spouse died shortly after you did. If neither of you had an estate plan, the assets might then go to your spouse’s family, rather than your own.

Contact Our DuPage County Wills and Trusts Lawyers

At Stock, Carlson, Oldfield & McGrath, LLC, we work with individuals to help ensure that their wishes are carried after death. Dedicated and experienced, our DuPage County wills and trusts lawyers can assist you in creating a comprehensive estate plan that suits your needs. Schedule a personalized consultation to get started. Call 630-665-2500 today.

Source:

https://money.usnews.com/investing/articles/2017-02-16/estate-planning-is-important-for-people-without-children

Life-Changing Events That Should Prompt an Update to Your Estate Plan

Illinois estate planning lawyersIf there is one thing you can count on in life, it is that things will change. Some changes are more internal, such as a new passion or career goal. Others are external. The former, though often positive, are likely to have little impact on the future of your estate. In contrast, the latter may require a significant change to your estate plan. Learn more about these changes in the following sections, and how an attorney can help ensure they are effectively addressed.

Re-Marriage and Divorce

Changing your marital status – whether from single to married or married to divorce – will, in most cases, warrant an update to your estate plan. This is especially true in the case of divorce and second, third, or other subsequent marriages. You should not tackle the changes alone, however, since blended families and ex family members can further complicate an already complex process. Instead, ask an attorney for assistance.

Birth and Adoption

The welcoming of a new child is a joyous event, but if you do not change your estate plan, you risk leaving your newest family member out in the cold. This can be especially troublesome if you have an ex-spouse. Further, young children may be at risk for foster placement – even if only temporarily – if you do not appoint a guardian and both you and your spouse pass away unexpectedly. So protect your children and update your estate plan as soon as the birth or adoption has taken place.

Death, Illness, or Injury of an Heir

If one of your heirs becomes ill or seriously injured, you may need to update your estate plan to better reflect the situation. For example, if a child becomes disabled after a car crash, you may want to assign provisions for them to ensure they are properly cared for after your passing. This may mean changing the inheritance of other children or heirs. Death of an heir should also prompt a change since that person can no longer inherit.

Tax Law Changes

While not all tax law changes warrant a change to your estate plan, others certainly do. In fact, some could significantly impact how your estate is taxed or distributed. This is also why it is a good idea to ensure your estate plan is reviewed by an attorney on a regular basis; they can ensure you are taking advantage of the options available to you and your heirs, and that all new tax laws are being considered. If you have questions about your estate plan and how taxes may impact it, contact an experienced estate planning attorney today.

Schedule a Consultation with Our Estate Planning Lawyers

At Stock, Carlson, Oldfield & McGrath, LLC, we work hard to preserve the best interests of our clients and their heirs. Seasoned and knowledgeable, we can review your estate plan, no matter what changes have occurred in your life, and will ensure you understand your options. Learn more about how our DuPage County estate planning attorneys can assist you. Call 630-665-2500 and schedule a consultation with us today.

Source:

http://www.forbes.com/sites/markeghrari/2017/01/02/6-reasons-to-revise-your-estate-plan-as-soon-as-possible/#8c12078e1e12

 

Estate Planning for Same-Sex Couples Has Changed – Have You Updated Your Plan Yet?

DuPage County estate planning lawyersAlthough same-sex marriage is now legal on a national level, few couples have thought to come forward and update their estate plan. Unfortunately, this can be problematic. It can also lead to a significant loss of funds upon a party’s death. Learn more about how an updated estate plan can benefit you and your partner, and why it is so important.

How Estate Planning Has Changed or Same-Sex Couples

Prior to 2015, same-sex couples who were not in a state that legally recognized their marriage had to find inventive ways to ensure their partner received benefits upon their death. Many had to take out insurance policies that were much higher than heterosexual couples because there needed to be enough to pay for estate taxes. This has now changed.

Same-sex couples now receive the same tax and gift deductions as all other couples, which means you may be able to reduce the amount of your current life insurance policy. Further, it gives you the opportunity to free up other liquidity in your financial plan. Same-sex couples should also check with their employer to see about adding their spouse to their life insurance policy; this option, which was not often available prior to 2015, can also save you money.

Same-Sex Couples May Still Have Unique Estate Planning Challenges

While, in many ways, estate planning for same-sex couples has become less complex, there may still be some unique challenges. For example, if one spouse has legal guardianship of a child brought into the marriage, but the other spouse does not, this could present some unique issues that need to be addressed in the estate plan. Guardianship may need to be clearly outlined to ensure the other parent receives guardianship in the event of the other parent’s death.

Updating or Preparing Your Estate Plan

If you have an estate plan that was created prior to 2015, speak to an attorney about updating yours. If you have not created one yet, now is the time to do it. Also, please note that do-it-yourself options are always discouraged since they do not always address the unique issues that same-sex couples face. Make sure yours is done with the best interest of you and your partner in mind. Contact an experienced estate planning attorney for help with your will or trust.

At Stock, Carlson, Oldfield & McGrath LLC, we provide personalized estate planning to fit your needs. Dedicated and experienced, we can devise a creative plan to protect the interests of you, your spouse, and any children you may have. Schedule your consultation with our DuPage County estate planning lawyers to learn more. Call us at 630-665-2500 today.

Source:

http://www.wsj.com/articles/estate-planning-for-same-sex-couples-1478541725