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.

Source:

http://www.oregonlive.com/business/index.ssf/2018/01/liz_weston_living_trusts_can_h.html

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/