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

When Celebrities Die Without a Will, Americans Get Serious About Estate Planning

DuPage County estate planning attorneysEstimates indicate that just 64 percent of all Americans have a will. That number drops significantly, falling to 22 percent, in the 55 and younger population. Yet, when the fortunes of big celebrities are thrown into limbo because they failed to make an estate plan, Americans start to get serious about their own fortunes. Of course, not everyone has an actual fortune, but that does not mean you do not need an estate plan. The following covers some important lessons learned from celebrities who died without a will, and will hopefully help you understand the importance of having one in place for your estate.

Probate Costs and Taxes Can Significantly Reduce the Value of Your Estate

Whether you are a multibillionaire, a pop music idol, or just your average American, your estate may be subject to probate if you pass away without a will in place. This can get expensive, and fast. As an example, Prince’s estate, which is currently valued at about $300 million has already racked up more than two million in attorney’s fees. On top of that, there will be state and federal taxes to pay, which are often higher when you fail to create an estate plan. If you have even a meager estate, reduce the risk of its depletion in probate with an estate plan.

Your Children Could Be Left Living in Limbo

If you have minor children and do not have an estate plan, your children could be left living in a sort of custodial limbo until a determination can be made by the courts. In the meantime, they could be placed in foster care or with a family member. In respect to the permanent guardian of your children, any family member can come forward and petition for custody of your children and their estate. Of course, the court will make every effort to ensure your children are safe and cared for, but the final determination may not be one you would have chosen.

The minor children of Michael Jackson, who was originally thought to have died without a will, might have faced a similar situation. Thankfully, his will did surface. It named both a permanent guardian and a successor guardian, should there ever be a need for one.

Adult Children, Spouses, and Other Heirs Are Left to Battle It Out

Probably the most heartbreaking consequence of an estate with no will is the effect it has on the family you love. Left to battle it out, and sometimes forced to take their issues to court, spouses, children, and other heirs may spend weeks, months, years, at war over who gets what. In some cases, the battle gets so heated that the bonds are forever strained or destroyed. Even if you only have sentimental property to divide, consider a will to protect your family from this fate.

Contact Our DuPage County Estate Planning Attorneys

Whatever your estate planning needs – be it to ensure your estate is divided the way you see fit, to reduce the risk of fighting, to protect your assets from depletion, or to simply ensure your children go to the person you feel is right – the law firm of Stock, Carlson, Oldfield & McGrath LLC can help. Get the experienced assistance you deserve. Call 630-665-2500 and schedule your initial consultation with our DuPage County estate planning lawyers today.

Sources:

http://www.cnbc.com/2016/04/27/music-superstars-who-died-without-leaving-a-will.html

http://www.usatoday.com/story/money/personalfinance/2015/07/11/estate-plan-will/71270548/

http://www.usatoday.com/story/life/people/2016/04/26/6-legendary-stars-who-died-without-wills/83550424/

http://www.startribune.com/legal-tab-for-prince-estate-2m-and-counting/388857201/

 

Understanding the Four Main Types of Life Insurance

equity index life insurance, life insurance, term life insurance, types of life insurance, universal life insurance, Wheaton estate planning attorney, whole life insurance, willsFor obvious reasons, purchasing life insurance is an emotionally charged decision. Still, it is an important move that could save loved ones from financial hardship. This is especially true if you are the main income earner within your family.

It is a smart idea to consult a legal professional to discuss any concerns you have related to life insurance, wills, and estate planning. An experienced estate lawyer can provide feedback and advice based on your particular circumstances.

One of the most common challenges that come with purchasing life insurance is knowing the difference between the various policy types. Below is a basic breakdown of the most common insurance plans.

Term Life Insurance

Term life insurance is generally the most affordable. These plans aim to provide a specific and reliable premium for a set amount of time. Options to increase the premium are usually available to clients who exceed the plan’s duration.

Whole Life Insurance

According to CNN Money, these plans guarantee a specific cash amount at the time of death, and they usually require a steady payment plan that rarely changes. Given the guarantee, this plan ends up being a more expensive choice but can offer greater financial security should the worst happen.

Equity Index Life Insurance

A form of whole life insurance, equity index policies tie potential earnings to a specific market index. For many, this is an attractive option since, depending on the stock market at the time of death, one can accrue greater payouts than other plans would offer.

Universal Life Insurance

Universal life insurance plans have the benefit of providing a tax-free cash value, but they come at a higher cost than other policies. Many people find universal life insurance attractive since there is the option to adjust the premium each month. It is also possible to borrow against these types of policies, though this can be a risky decision.

When choosing a life insurance policy, the advice of a Wheaton estate planning attorney may prove invaluable. For legal services in Wheaton, contact the Illinois law office of Stock, Carlson, Flynn & McGrath, LLC today at 630-665-2500.