Estate Planning Basics: Choosing a Guardian for Your Children

Illinois guardianship attorneysNo parent wants to think about passing away before their children have grown, but tragedies happen every day. Sadly, if families are unprepared for such an issue, their children may be further traumatized by the events that occur after their loss. As such, all parents are encouraged to name a guardian for their child in a legally drafted will. Learn more about this process, including how to choose the right person for the job, with help from the following.

Guardianship is Not Automatic

Above all else, parents need to know that guardianship is not automatic after a tragedy. For example, you may assume that your parents would automatically receive your children if something happened to you, but this is not the case. Instead, anyone that is interested in custody of your children can come forward and request it. Then a judge must hear each person’s side and determine which home may be most appropriate.

The problem with this is that the judge may not choose the same guardian that you would have chosen. Also, children may be forced to spend time in a stranger’s home – perhaps even emergency foster care – until a determination can be made. Do not let this happen to your children! Instead, choose a guardian that fits your views, preferences, and your child’s needs.

Choosing the “Right” Guardian

Choosing the “right” guardian for your children may seem like a difficult task, but as a parent, you know what is best for your children. You also know the people closest to you – the ones that may be suitable guardians. Consider, first, which ones may be interested in serving as a guardian to your children. Then ask yourself some of the following questions:

  • Does the person in question have a parenting style that closely mimics yours?
  • Are the person’s religious beliefs or core values similar to yours?
  • Is the person mentally, financially, and emotionally capable of caring for your children?
  • Does your child feel comfortable with the person?
  • Would your child have to move far away to live with that person, and would it cause additional trauma for your child?
  • Does the potential guardian have children of their own, and would it present a problem?
  • Would the person in question have the time and energy to devote to your child?

If, after considering all aspects, you believe you have a suitable guardian, consider also choosing a secondary guardian, just in case something should happen (i.e. death, disability, etc.) that might prevent your primary guardian from taking your children. Then contact an experienced lawyer to ensure you have considered all aspects of your guardianship plan.

Contact Our DuPage County Will and Guardianship Attorneys

At Stock, Carlson, Oldfield & McGrath, LLC, we are sensitive to the struggles parents face when deciding on a guardian for their child. Dedicated and experienced, we can examine your family’s needs and situation and explain your options. At every turn, we strive to protect the interest of you and your children. Learn more about how our DuPage County will and guardianship lawyers can assist with your estate planning needs by scheduling a personalized consultation. Call our offices at 630-665-2500 today.

Source:

https://www.babycenter.com/0_how-to-choose-a-guardian-for-your-child_1286759.bc

What the Estate of Prince Can Teach Everyone About the Importance of Wills

Wheaton Illinois estate planning attorneysPrince Rogers Nelson, one of the most beloved pop icons in history, spent his life fighting to maintain creative and legal control over his career. Yet, in the months that followed his death, it became evident that he had not been quite as vigilant when it came to legally documenting what would happen to those assets after he died. In other words, Prince died without a will. As a result, his substantial estate – his alleged vault of unreleased music, his roughly $300 million in various assets – have become a cautionary tale that everyone can learn from.

What Happens in the Absence of a Will?

Prince’s estate is being handled by the state. This means that the state appoints an administrator (who may not be a person you would approve of), and your assets will be distributed to the next of kin. This can be problematic for a number of reasons. First, the state must establish who your true heirs are. Second, the distribution to those heirs may not resemble your wishes.

Maybe you wanted some of your estate to go to a special charity, your grandchildren, or a college friend that supported you during a difficult time in your life. Or maybe you did not want any of your estate to go to a brother with an alcohol problem, and wanted it to go to step-children instead.  Without a will, those wishes become a moot point.

Furthermore, your heirs can do whatever they wish with your assets. Family heirlooms, creative property, and more may be lost forever, sold to the highest bidder, or otherwise mishandled. For example, the unreleased music of Prince might never be heard because the heir who inherits it will get to choose what happens to it.

Without a Will, Details of Your Estate Are Public

Another obvious lesson from Prince’s death is that the absence of a will makes the details of your estate public. It gets discussed by complete strangers, and your heirs have zero privacy. In contrast, a will can protect them from the prying of the public and ensure that the distribution of your estate remains a private family matter. A will can also protect your heirs – and your assets – from unnecessary and expensive tax obligations.

Craft Your Estate Plan Today

At Stock, Carlson, Oldfield and McGrath LLC, we understand just how important it is that your estate be distributed according to your wishes. We also know that the financial future of your family depends on our ability to craft a creative, effective estate plan. Our skilled Wheaton, Illinois estate planning attorneys respond to your needs with attentive, personalized, high-quality representation for your estate planning needs. Call 630-665-2500 and schedule your confidential consultation to learn more.

Source:

http://www.usatoday.com/story/life/music/2016/07/13/law-firm-relevant-info-prince-heirs-asked-share-estate/87033094/

 

Illinois Intestate Succession Rules

intestate succession rules, Illinois Estate Planning AttorneyWhat happens to your assets and property if you die without a will? Every state’s laws have a different answer to that question. In Illinois, the law that covers “intestate succession” is the Probate Act of 1975.

If you die without a will in Illinois, then the law covers any assets that you own which do not come under one of the following:

  • Life insurance policy proceeds;
  • Retirement accounts;
  • Payable-on-Death (POD) bank accounts;
  • Securities or stocks which are in a transfer-on-death (TOD) account;
  • Property held on a TOD deed;
  • Property owned with another individual(s) in a tenancy by the entirety or a joint tenancy; and
  • Property or assets placed in a living trust.

Without a will, any other assets would go to your closest relatives. Who those relatives are depends on who you have as relatives. For example, if you are not married but have children when you die, then your children will receive all of your assets. In addition to your biological children, Illinois law defines a legal child who is entitled to your estate as:

  • Any adopted child;
  • Any foster or stepchild;
  • Any child who was conceived but not born before your death;
  • Any child born outside of marriage who you accepted paternity for;
  • Any child you gave up for adoption where the child’s adoption decree specifically states his or her right to inherit from your estate; and
  • Any grandchild who’s parent (your child) died before you.

If you are married, but have no children or other descendants, then your spouse will receive all of your assets.

The more family you have, the more complicated it can get. If you do have a spouse and children or other descendants, then your spouse will get half of your assets and your children the other half.

If you pass away and you only have your parents as relatives, then they will receive your assets. If you only have siblings when you die, then your siblings will receive your property. If both your parents are alive and you have siblings, then each will receive an equal portion of your assets. However, if one of your parents has passed, then the surviving parent would receive a double portion of your assets.

No matter what the situation, it is clearly better to have a will in place when you die. Contact an experienced DuPage County estate planning attorney to discuss drafting up a will and to answer any other estate planning questions you may have.