Estate Planning for Your Pet – What Pet Owners Should Know Before Writing Their Will

Wheaton will and trust attorneysWhen creating an estate plan, most people ensure their children and spouse are covered. Sadly, few people consider how their death could impact their furry family members. In fact, statistics indicate that only about 18 percent of pet owners have considered making provisions for their pet in their will. This oversight, which may be partially attributed to the fact that not everyone knows you can estate plan for a pet, often results in a poor outcome for beloved animals. Learn how you can prevent such a fate for your family pet using a pet trust or comprehensive estate plan, and discover how a seasoned estate planning lawyer can assist you with the estate planning process. 

Why Include Your Pet in an Estate Plan? 

In most states (including Illinois), pets are considered property. That means, if a pet owner dies, the animal is distributed like any other asset. Unfortunately, because a pet holds no financial benefit for the inheriting heir, it may be abandoned, surrendered, or neglected due to a lack of funds or desire to care for the animal. An estate plan can reduce the risk of such an issue occurring – and not just because the guarantor usually speaks with the inheriting party to ensure there is a desire to care for the pet, but because it often allows the pet owner to set up a fund that ensures the pet is well cared for, long after they are gone. Pet owners can also elect to set up alternate or subsequent guardians for their pet, just in case something should happen to the primary heir of the animal, such as a death, the birth of a child, or the development of allergies. 

How to Estate Plan for Your Pet

Creating an estate plan for an animal is a lot like making provisions for a child, but there are many special conditions and limitations that must be considered. For example, pet owners may be able to find a life insurance policy that can be left to the pet heir to ensure proper care of the animal, but these can be both difficult to find and costly – especially for older pet owners. Alternatively, the pet owner can set up a trust for the animal that covers the expected cost of vet bills, food, and grooming for the life of the pet. In either case, it is critical to ensure that the person receiving the money is interested not just in inheriting the funds, but also caring for the animal for the rest of its natural life. As such, it is highly recommended that pet owners take the time to discuss their wishes and desires with a potential pet heir to ensure they are both willing and able to accept the responsibility that comes with caring for a beloved pet. 

Contact Our Seasoned DuPage County Estate Planning Lawyers

At Stock, Carlson, Oldfield & McGrath, LLC, we prioritize the wishes and desires of our clients. Seasoned and experienced, our Wheaton estate planning attorneys can help you develop a comprehensive estate plan that covers all your family members – even the furry ones. Schedule a personalized consultation by calling 630-665-2500 today. 

Source:

https://www.petmd.com/dog/care/estate-planning-pets-why-you-should-do-it

 

Single and Retired? Try These Strategies When Creating Your Illinois Will or Trust

DuPage County wills and trusts lawyerWhile those who are married or have kids typically have a built-in plan, should anything happen to them, singles rarely have this option. As such, they may find themselves incapacitated or ill with no one to protect their interests. Even worse, if they pass away, their entire life’s earnings could be lost. Thankfully, there are ways that single people can protect themselves from such a fate. Learn more, and discover how a seasoned will an trust lawyer can assist with the process. 

Examining the Role and Responsibilities of a Proxy or Trust

A trust or proxy is someone who makes medical, financial, or estate decisions for an incapacitated or deceased party. Used by single and married people alike, this person must be appointed by the individual in question ahead of time, and their roles and responsibilities must be clearly outlined. These may include:

  • Financial responsibilities – Making decisions on behalf of the individual and handling of their finances, should they become incapacitated; 
  • Healthcare responsibilities – Making medical decisions if the individual becomes incapacitated; and
  • Will or trust executor responsibilities – Handling of the estate and final expenses, should the individual pass away.

Ensuring Your Proxy is Prepared for Their Role

Your will or estate plan can be as simple or comprehensive as you like, but keep in mind that your proxy only knows what you tell them. For example, if you do not want to have excessive measures taken to keep you alive, you must outline this in your will or estate plan. Additionally, if you only want your proxy to handle certain aspects of your estate, you will want to ensure this is clearly stated and explained. Of course, it can be difficult to plan for all scenarios, especially on your own. As such, individuals are highly encouraged to seek legal counsel when drafting their will or estate plan. 

You will also want to ensure that your proxy has all the information they need to handle their responsibilities (i.e. passwords for online banking, credit cards, and online banking), and they will need a list of your debts and assets, along with a copy of your passport and information on any insurance policies you may have. This information can be placed in an envelope and given to your proxy. Just be sure to also supply your attorney with a copy, and update the information anytime something changes. 

Contact Our DuPage County Estate Planning Lawyers

With more than 40 years of experience, Stock, Carlson, Oldfield & McGrath, LLC has the knowledge and skills to help ensure your estate plan is created with your best interests in mind. Schedule your personalized consultation with our DuPage County estate planning lawyers to learn more. Call 630-665-2500 today. 

Source:

http://www.fox5atlanta.com/news/i-team/estate-emergency-planning-for-single-people

 

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