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.

Source:

https://money.usnews.com/investing/articles/2017-02-16/estate-planning-is-important-for-people-without-children

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

Same-Sex Couples Still Face Some Unique Estate Planning Challenges

Illinois estate planning lawyersWhile most married couples can benefit from estate planning, it is not a hard or critical requirement. Most often, their assets would go to their spouse upon death, and minor children remain with the surviving parent, as long as the parent does not supersede them in death or die along with them. Even medical decisions are typically deferred to the spouse if one of them becomes incapacitated. Unfortunately, this is not always the case for same-sex married couples. Learn more about the challenges that same-sex couples face in estate planning, and what you can do to protect your family, with help from the following information.

Same-Sex Couple Estate Planning Challenges

Same-sex couples may experience numerous challenges in the event of death or incapacitation of one member. Families that refuse to accept the sexual orientation of their loved one may challenge the validity of a spouse’s inheritance; doctors may question the authenticity of a same-sex marriage, which can delay treatment; and even children may be temporarily removed from a loving parent if the validity of a same-sex marriage is questioned. In short, many potential areas can create post-death issues for surviving spouses in a same-sex marriage.

Why the Challenges Continue to Exist

Even though same-sex marriage is now legal in all 50 states, state laws continue to lag – some more so than others. For example, Illinois not only recognizes same-sex marriage, but it also protects the rights of same-sex couples when it comes to adoption. Same-sex couples are also treated the same as heterosexual couples, should they ever decide to divorce. Still, even in states like Illinois, it is crucial that same-sex couples protect their loved ones with an estate plan.

Protecting Your Family with an Estate Plan

Every married couple should have a will in place, but same-sex couples are encouraged to go beyond this basic estate planning document. A trust can reduce the risk of probate challenges, powers of attorney and living wills can reduce issues that may arise in the event of incapacitation, and adoption to ensure both parents are listed as legal guardians are ways that same-sex couples can protect their families from the possible challenges of same-sex estate planning.

For assistance with your estate plan, contact Stock, Carlson, Oldfield & McGrath, LLC. Our Wheaton estate planning lawyers are backed by over 40 years of legal experience, and we can work with you to develop creative solutions for your unique situation. Schedule a consultation with us by calling 630-665-2500 today.

Source:

https://www.usatoday.com/story/money/personalfinance/retirement/2017/06/17/estate-planning-more-complicated-same-sex-couples/102862578/