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.



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.



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.