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

Wills and Living Trusts – Do You Need Both?

DuPage County estate planning lawyersEstate planning is a complex and highly personalized process (at least it should be), and that means that no two estate plans are exactly the same. However, there are similarities and generalized information that one can use to determine which estate planning option may be most appropriate for their situation.

Consider, for example, the comparison of a will and living trust. Each strategy works the same, regardless of your situation, but your situation may warrant that you use one document or the other. Also, there may be certain scenarios in which both strategies are needed. Learn more about when this may occur, and discover how our seasoned estate planning lawyers can assist you in developing an estate plan that suits your needs.

Comparing Wills and Living Trusts

Although wills and living trusts both allow you to name beneficiaries and designate where assets will go upon your death, they do so in very different ways. Wills communicate your wishes upon your death, and they do not typically require you to do anything extra; you simply need to create it, register it, and ensure that loved ones know where to find a copy.

Living trusts can also designate assets and identify trustees, but you have more control over when and how the assets are assigned. For example, you can transfer your home to a beneficiary before your death, rather than after your death, to help them avoid probate after your death. Using a living trust over a will could also result in a more expedient transfer of property to the beneficiary. In short, living trusts can reduce the legal costs and delays that are often associated with probate over a contested will.

When Both May Be Needed

While most parties need only a will or living trust, there are certain situations that may warrant both. If, for example, you have assets that do not have value (i.e. items of sentiment, pets, etc.) that you want to go to a specific beneficiary, a will can help you do that. However, if you also have substantial assets that could go to probate, you may still need a living will to protect your beneficiary from the resulting delays and legal costs that might occur if someone does contest the validity of your will. An attorney can help you better understand what other situations might warrant both a living trust and a will.

Contact Our DuPage County Estate Planning Lawyers

Backed by more than 40 years of experience, Stock, Carlson, Oldfield & McGrath, LLC can skillfully assist you in developing an estate plan that suits your family’s needs. Dedicated to ensuring your wishes are carried out, even after your death, our DuPage County estate planning lawyers can examine your situation, explain your options, and execute whatever strategy appeals to you. Call 630-665-2500 to schedule your personalized consultation today.

Source:

http://www.oregonlive.com/business/index.ssf/2018/01/liz_weston_living_trusts_can_h.html

Pre-Planning in Estate Planning Can Protect Your Heirs from Probate Issues

DuPage County wills and trusts attorneysMost estate planners assume that having a will or living trust can keep their heirs from having to go through probate. Unfortunately, this is not always the case. There are numerous variables, potential oversights, and often confusing elements in the estate planning process. Any one of them can result in a need for probate. Learn more about how to reduce this risk with help from the following information.

Comparing Wills and Trusts

There are two basic methods used in estate planning: wills and trusts. Wills are an effective way to address guardianship issues, but they often increase the risk of probate because they can be challenged by family members. Living trusts are less likely to result in probate. Still, it is important to realize that a living trust does not eliminate the need for a will; almost no one disburses their entire estate through a living trust. Further, there may be elements in your estate plan that cannot be covered by a living trust.

Updating Your Beneficiaries

Couples marry, divorce, and then remarry. They have a child, and then maybe a few more. Family members pass away. In short, life changes. When it does, estate plans need updating. Beneficiaries need to be renamed or modified. Guardians may need to be altered or modified. Failure to do any of this can ultimately increase the risk of probate and may even lead to a loss of assets for a member of your family.

Using Payable and Transfer on Death

Payable-on-death and transfer-on-death accounts are one of the more effective strategies for reducing the overall risk of probate for your estate. They can be used to immediately transfer bank accounts, certificates of deposits, stocks, bonds, brokerage accounts, and other assets upon death. There are some limitations to these strategies, such as not being able to list an alternate beneficiary, so it is important to discuss your situation with an attorney to determine if this option may be appropriate for you.

Contact Our DuPage County Estate Planning Lawyers

If you are ready to start your estate plan, contact Stock, Carlson, Oldfield & McGrath, LLC. Our DuPage County estate planning lawyers are dedicated to your best interest and your family’s future. We will examine your situation, explain your options, and assist you with a creative estate plan that can address your needs and desires. To get started, schedule your personalized consultation. Call us at 630-665-2500 today.

Source:

http://www.chicagotribune.com/business/sns-201502032000–tms–savingsgctnzy-a20150203-20150203-story.html