Same-Sex Couples Still Face Some Unique Estate Planning Challenges

Illinois estate planning lawyersWhile most married couples can benefit from estate planning, it is not a hard or critical requirement. Most often, their assets would go to their spouse upon death, and minor children remain with the surviving parent, as long as the parent does not supersede them in death or die along with them. Even medical decisions are typically deferred to the spouse if one of them becomes incapacitated. Unfortunately, this is not always the case for same-sex married couples. Learn more about the challenges that same-sex couples face in estate planning, and what you can do to protect your family, with help from the following information.

Same-Sex Couple Estate Planning Challenges

Same-sex couples may experience numerous challenges in the event of death or incapacitation of one member. Families that refuse to accept the sexual orientation of their loved one may challenge the validity of a spouse's inheritance; doctors may question the authenticity of a same-sex marriage, which can delay treatment; and even children may be temporarily removed from a loving parent if the validity of a same-sex marriage is questioned. In short, many potential areas can create post-death issues for surviving spouses in a same-sex marriage.

Why the Challenges Continue to Exist

Even though same-sex marriage is now legal in all 50 states, state laws continue to lag – some more so than others. For example, Illinois not only recognizes same-sex marriage, but it also protects the rights of same-sex couples when it comes to adoption. Same-sex couples are also treated the same as heterosexual couples, should they ever decide to divorce. Still, even in states like Illinois, it is crucial that same-sex couples protect their loved ones with an estate plan.

Protecting Your Family with an Estate Plan

Every married couple should have a will in place, but same-sex couples are encouraged to go beyond this basic estate planning document. A trust can reduce the risk of probate challenges, powers of attorney and living wills can reduce issues that may arise in the event of incapacitation, and adoption to ensure both parents are listed as legal guardians are ways that same-sex couples can protect their families from the possible challenges of same-sex estate planning.

For assistance with your estate plan, contact Stock, Carlson, Oldfield & McGrath, LLC. Our Wheaton estate planning lawyers are backed by over 40 years of legal experience, and we can work with you to develop creative solutions for your unique situation. Schedule a consultation with us by calling 630-665-2500 today.


The Legal Side of Will Writing in Illinois

DuPage County, DuPage County estate planning lawyer, estate planning, Illinois estate planning, legal document, living will, will writingWill writing ensures loved ones are financially secure when a person passes. It is not always easy to find the motivation to write a will. It is an emotional experience. However, not taking this step can lead to a multitude of issues ranging from conflict among family members to high estate taxes and even lawsuits.

A will is a document that contains the terms by which a person's assets and money will be distributed after his or her death. Every state has a list of formal requirements that must be followed when a will is written. The Illinois State Bar Association has listed the legal requirements for those who live in Illinois. These requirements include the following:

  • Will writers must be at least 18 years old;

  • The will must be in writing;

  • The will writer must sign the document, along with two legal witnesses; and

  • A beneficiary of the will cannot act as a legal witness.

In the will, a person can name reliable people as trustees. After the person's death, these trustees would be called on to handle the person's estate and carry out any requests he or she had made. While the person is alive, he or she can revoke or change the will as many times as necessary. A change in the will is called a "codicil." However, there are strict legal requirements in order to execute a change in a will.

If you need to change or create a will in Illinois, Stock, Carlson, Flynn & McGrath, LLC can help. We can address any of your concerns or questions regarding estate planning and the writing of a will. Our DuPage County estate planning lawyers also offer advice regarding inheritance taxes. We assist clients in Hinsdale, Lombard, Downers Grove, Naperville and DuPage County. To schedule a consultation, please call us at 630-665-2500.

The Importance of Having a Well-Formulated Estate Plan

DuPage County estate planning lawyer, well-formulated estate plan, estate tax, federal estate tax, death tax, business estate planA well-formulated estate plan gives estate owners peace of mind knowing their assets and funds are going to the right place. One reason why it is important to develop an estate plan is to potentially reduce or eliminate federal estate taxes, also known as the “death tax.” Calculated at 40 percent, these taxes not only diminish funds from loved ones but they can also severely impact a private company.

According to an article in Forbes, an estate is only subject to federal estate tax if it is valued at more than $5.34 million. Moreover, there is a marital exemption. If you are married, you and your partner will not have to pay federal estate taxes unless your combined estate is valued at more than $10.6 million. Although these limits mean most Americans will not need to pay estate tax, those who do could see a substantial loss in wealth. If a business is owned, there are a number of other criteria, including death or retirement of the key asset holder, that can affect a business's equity before estate tax comes into effect. Understanding these factors can put a person in a position to keep these taxes low.

In addition, Forbes contributor Steve Parrish notes that business owners may also face the challenge of not having “sufficient liquidity to carry the estate through to distribution to the beneficiaries.” Creditors may need paid off or lost revenue may need supplemented. However, this can be avoided by having an estate plan that is sufficient in funds. A well-formulated estate plan considers all factors “that can challenge the successful transfer of wealth, including the estate tax,” states Parrish.

If you need help developing a well-formulated estate plan in Illinois, please contact Stock, Carlson, Flynn & McGrath, LLC. Our DuPage County estate planning lawyers offer solutions to protect your rights and assets and can assist clients in Downers Grove, Hinsdale, Lombard, Naperville, and throughout DuPage County. To schedule a consultation, please contact our office at 630-665-2500.