When is Probate Necessary in Illinois?

Illinois probate lawyersProbate is a court-supervised procedure in which the court determines who is supposed to inherit the assets of a deceased person. Though not always necessary, it is sometimes required. The following sections can help you learn more about the probate process in Illinois, including when it may be needed and how a seasoned attorney can help improve the outcome for entitled heirs.

When is Probate Necessary? 

Illinois’ probate laws are not dependent upon whether there was a valid will at the time of a person’s death. Instead, they focus on the assets that the individual owned and how they were titled. For example, assets that are found to be joint- or entirety-owned may be distributed without probate. Assets held in trust, assets assigned to a designated beneficiary (i.e. retirement accounts), and real estate assets with a transfer-on-death deed may be distributed without a will or probate as well. In contrast, an estate may be required to go through probate if:

  • The estate’s value exceeds $100,000,
  • Assets belonging to the deceased party were held solely,
  • There are concerns over the validity of the will,
  • The will contains confusing language,
  • Heirs cannot be easily identified,
  • Creditors make claims against the estate, or
  • The executor is suspected of wrongdoing.

Illinois’ Probate Process

To start the probate process, the estate executor must file paperwork with the Circuit Court in which the deceased party resided. (Note: If an executor of the estate was not named, or if there was no will, a vested party must step forward and ask to be appointed the estate’s administrator.) They must then gather, inventory, and safeguard all assets until they can be distributed. Typically, this occurs after creditors have been notified and valid claims have been paid. Taxes, which may be owed on estates that exceed $4 million at the state level and $5.45 million at the federal level, must also be paid before a distribution occurs.

Executors can usually navigate the process without gaining clearance from the courts, but there are situations in which the executor must gain clearance before every step. The latter is highly complex, and the assistance of a seasoned, competent attorney is highly encouraged. In all other cases, the path forward may depend greatly on the exact details of the case.

Contact Our Wheaton Estate Planning Lawyers

If you or someone you know needs assistance with the probate process, Stock, Carlson, Oldfield & McGrath, LLC is the firm to call. Our knowledgeable Wheaton estate planning lawyers are backed by more than 40 years of experience, and we preserve the best interests of our clients at every turn. Schedule your free and personalized consultation by calling 630-225-2500 today.

Source:

http://ilga.gov/legislation/ilcs/ilcs5.asp?ActID=2104&ChapterID=60

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

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