Choosing an Executor for Your Estate

executorEstate planning is arguably one of the most important things a person will do during their entire life, and as such, everything matters. The slightest discrepancy may be attacked, and your wishes may not be honored if your estate is not set up and administered properly. Perhaps the most important choice you must make while estate planning is picking your executor, who can ensure that your wishes are carried out as you prefer and act on your behalf.

Responsibilities of an Executor

A person who has been named executor in Illinois has 30 days following the death of the testator in which to either submit the will for probate or refuse the appointment. The responsibility of managing another’s estate is significant, and with that in mind, it is important to pick the right person. The instinct for many is to choose their spouse, but this is not always the best choice, especially if you are of similar ages. He or she may be elderly and/or ill when the time comes for them to assume the role.

Whomever you choose must be able to fulfill all of the duties of the office. These include:

  • Informing the relevant authorities and your creditors of your passing, and in some instances, your family;
  • Paying any outstanding debts incurred in your lifetime by you or your estate;
  • Ensuring your spouse’s or family’s well-being until the estate is settled (i.e. paying rent or mortgage payments, bills, etc.);
  • Paying estate taxes;
  • Hiring the right attorney to help probate the estate; and
  • Dealing with any questions or concerns of putative beneficiaries during the process.

Generally speaking, an executor has a fiduciary duty to act appropriately toward all involved parties while safeguarding the assets of the estate.

Who Can Serve as Executor?

An executor has responsibilities that may last years and be quite complex in nature. Illinois, like many other states, does have restrictions on who may serve, though there are not as many as there are elsewhere. To serve as an executor, a person must be over the age of 18, a U.S. resident (not necessarily a citizen), and they must not have been judged to be incapacitated in any way by a court. They must also be free of any condition that would require guardianship.

It is recommended that you choose an executor who lives near you, but it is not absolutely required. However, you should be aware that if you do choose an out-of-state executor, they may be asked to post a bond by the probate court, so as to increase the chances of their successful oversight of the estate.

A Wheaton Wills and Trusts Attorney Can Help

If you are confused or conflicted about who to choose as your executor, you are not alone. The best solution for most is to consult an experienced estate planning attorney. Contact one of our knowledgeable DuPage County estate planning lawyers to discuss your situation today. Call 630-665-2500 and schedule a confidential consultation at Stock, Carlson, Oldfield & McGrath LLC.

 

Sources:

http://www.ilga.gov/legislation/ilcs/ilcs4.asp?ActID=2104&ChapterID=60&SeqStart=7200000&SeqEnd=9400000

http://ilga.gov/legislation/ilcs/documents/075500050K6-13.htm

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

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