Estate Planning Basics: Choosing a Suitable Guardian for Your Children

Wheaton wills and trusts lawyersOf all the things that a parent must do, creating an estate plan that names a guardian for their children is, by far, one of the most difficult. That is because it not only requires the parent to consider the possibility of their death, it also requires the them to determine who may be willing, able, and best-suited to raise their child in their absence. Learn more about choosing a guardian to raise your children if a tragedy occurs, and discover how a seasoned estate planning lawyer can assist you with the process. 

Why Choosing a Guardian is Important 

Although most people know that life is unpredictable, they often want to avoid considering their own mortality – and that includes drafting estate planning documents like wills and guardianship papers. Other people simply get lost in their day-to-day lives and simply put off estate planning until “tomorrow.” Regardless of the reason for their delay, parents are highly encouraged to consider the potentially devastating consequences for their children. 

If a tragedy occurs and no will is in place, minor children and disabled adult children may be sent into the foster care system until a guardianship can be named. What is more, the courts typically allow any family member to bid for guardianship of the surviving children of a deceased parent – and that can include people who do not align with your values, religion, or parenting style. From there, the courts will make a determination, and they may use factors that seem irrelevant to you (i.e. annual income, age and overall health of the potential guardian, etc.). In short, parents who do not have a will are leaving the future of their children up to chance. 

Choosing a Guardian – Starting the Process

Only you can truly determine who may be best capable of loving and raising your children in the way that you envision. Perhaps you already have someone in mind, but you may also be struggling with the decision because there are multiple parties that would be suitable. If you are in the latter group, some of the following considerations may help you in making your decision:

  • Who might parent most like you?
  • How important is it that the guardian practice the same religion as you?
  • Are there potential guardians that share your values?
  • Is the potential guardian financially stable enough to care for your child?
  • Is the guardian capable of giving your child the love and attention they deserve?
  • Is the potential guardian mentally, emotionally, and physically healthy enough to care for your children?
  • Is there anything about the guardian that might negatively impact your child?

Keep in mind that you can choose alternate guardians, in the event that the guardian you choose is unable to care for your children upon your death. You can even create a succession plan if the first-chosen guardian passes away after taking guardianship of your children. 

At Stock, Carlson, Oldfield & McGrath, LLC, we understand that guardianship is a serious matter, as the possibility of your untimely death, and we can help you prepare for it all. Seasoned and committed to protecting the interest of your heirs and surviving family, we can help you consider all the potential scenarios and possibilities in your Illinois estate plan. Start by scheduling a personalized consultation with our Wheaton estate planning lawyers. Call 630-665-2500 today. 

Source:

https://www.forbes.com/sites/lizfrazierpeck/2017/11/28/how-to-choose-the-right-guardian-for-your-child/#12171b753d61

 

What is a Titanic Clause and Do You Need One in Your Estate Plan?

Illinois wills and trusts lawyersEstate planning can be a complex and frustrating process – and not just because you must follow the letter of the law when creating your documents. Instead, there are numerous challenges and obstacles to consider and anticipate. For example, you could create a comprehensive will that clearly outlines your wishes, only to have it contested in court, which could send the estate to probate and ultimately decrease its overall value. Learn how a Titanic clause can reduce the risk of this happening to your heirs, and discover how an experienced wills and trusts lawyer can help you add one to your current (or future) estate plan.

What is a Titanic Clause?

Titanic clauses are designed to deal with "worst-case scenarios" in estate planning, such as all your heirs dying before your estate can be distributed. They can also address when the state should direct funds to another agency or organization (i.e. your favorite non-profit), rather than attempt to find additional heirs for your estate. Not only can this reduce your risk of probate, it can also reduce the chances that your assets will go to an unintended party, or a family member that you do not know and have never heard of or met. Most individuals are encouraged to have a Titanic clause in their estate plan – even if the value of their estate is small – but it can be especially crucial for those with a high-value estate.

Other Important Estate Planning Elements to Consider

Being predeceased by your heirs is not the only risk to your estate. If you and your spouse die simultaneously, or if you die around the same time but it is difficult to determine which of you passed away first, it can complicate or even completely alter how your estate is distributed. A simultaneous death clause can direct the state on how to treat such matters.

Survivorship deferral clauses can be used to direct your estate if an heir dies within a certain time-period after they have received their disbursement. This, too, can reduce the risk that your assets go to an unintended party. Talk to your attorney about other clauses or addendums that may benefit you and your heirs in your estate plan by scheduling a personalized consultation.

Contact Our Wheaton Wills and Trusts Lawyers

At Stock, Carlson, Oldfield & McGrath, LLC, we protect the financial futures of our clients and their heirs by providing comprehensive and personalized services. Dedicated and experienced, our DuPage County wills and trusts lawyers are here to serve you. Call our offices at 630-665-2500 and schedule your personalized consultation today.

Source:

https://www.cnbc.com/2017/01/09/why-your-estate-needs-a-titanic-clause.html

Uncertainty and Changing Tax Laws Should Not Delay Estate Planning

Wheaton wills and trusts attorneysWhile some people may be rejoicing the recent pass-through of the House's Tax Cut and Jobs Act, others may be experiencing uncertainty over the future. Sadly, this apprehension can cause those individuals to delay or even completely forgo estate planning. Learn why this is usually a poor decision, gain insight on how the bill might affect your heirs if it is passed into law, and discover what an experienced attorney can do to protect your family after your death.

The Danger of Estate Planning Delays

It can be tempting to put off estate planning, especially if you are young and healthy, but doing so can have dire consequences. Accidents occur, and even the healthiest of people can suffer a tragic illness. If one occurs and you pass away or are rendered incapacitated, you and your heirs may suffer. For example, there may be no one to make medical decisions for you, so you may be forced to endure the standard of care, despite not wanting resuscitation. Another possible consequence is that your family could be left without access to money for bills and daily expenses if you have not named a power of attorney. Thankfully, such issues can be mitigated against (and perhaps even avoided altogether) with a carefully thought-out estate plan.

Bill Would Not Eliminate the Need for Estate Planning

Although the passage of the Tax Cut and Jobs Act may lead some to believe that they no longer need an estate plan, the clear and evidenced dangers of not having one makes it abundantly clear that – at the very least – a valid will is needed. There are also other, independent concerns that individuals should be aware of, such as when and why a more comprehensive estate plan may be needed.

Consider an individual who has left behind the typical blended family: an ex-wife, wife, children, and step-children. After spending years on building and developing bonds to create a healthy and functional family, a freak accident occurs and the individual passes away. Wracked with grief and highly sentimental over a few prized possessions, the previously intact family, starts to argue over whom receives what. If severe enough, that contention can break the bonds of family, perhaps permanently.

Had the individual created a will or trust, there would have been no confusion over where the assets were meant to go. Because of this, heirs are more likely to receive their portion of the estate, and the risk of probate is dramatically reduced. Legal costs and taxes are also typically lower for heirs, and the amount of time that it takes to divide the estate is usually shorter. In short, an estate plan can protect heirs from some of the most common estate planning issues.

Contact Our Wheaton Estate Planning Lawyers

If you have been delaying the creation of an estate plan because of apprehension or misguided information over how the new bill may impact your family's future, contact Stock, Carlson, Oldfield & McGrath, LLC for assistance. Our seasoned Wheaton estate planning lawyers can examine your situation, advise you of your options, and assist you in developing creative solutions that can hopefully satisfy your needs. Call 630-665-2500 and schedule your personalized consultation with us to get started.

Source:

https://www.fool.com/taxes/2017/10/21/3-reasons-youll-still-need-estate-planning-even-if.aspx