Apr 29 2013
We all know we’re “supposed” to have a will when we die, but what will actually happen if for some reason we don’t? Will anything bad happen? A recent post has explained the consequences.
Here in Illinois, we do have the right to create a will, however, we are not forced to do so. According to state law, the court will automatically distribute your property to your legal heirs if you are to die without having written a will. The court distributes your property by choosing a specific administrator to go through and settle your estate and handle your assets. The administrator does so by following guidelines described in Illinois law, and this is after all debts and expenses have already been paid.
It’s impossible to generalize exactly how your assets will be distributed; that depends on the individual situation. One specific law in Illinois regarding distribution of assets is that if there is a widow and one or more children remaining, the widow will receive one half of the estate and the children will receive and share the remaining half.
Here in Illinois, we have adopted independent administration for all estates. Because of this change, family privacy has been increased. It is also true that this new administration will reduce time required in the courts. The court is only required to be involved in the situation for opening and closing the estate. However, time could be increased if there happen to be disputes among the beneficiaries or with third parties.
In general, it is highly recommended that you create a will while you are able to. It is recommended so that you can voice your opinion in how your estate will be distributed and so that you can reap the tax benefits. If you think it is time to start considering drawing up your will, contact an experienced Illinois estate planning attorney to assist you and answer any questions you may have.
Apr 15 2013
As the baby boomer generation is getting older and as the financial market is still a little uneasy, many retirement-age individuals are wondering how they are going to make ends meet. Our government currently offers Medicaid to help those in need who are age 65 or older, disabled or blind and are considered low-income. This assistance helps with long term care for those who otherwise would have no resources to be able to live sustainably.
This federal and state joint program has minimum standards and expectations that can be a little tricky to understand.
To be able to use Medicaid for nursing home payments is important for many elderly because they need the help and care to have a good quality of life for their remaining years. To qualify for Medicaid, you have to be considered low-income and if you have certain assets it can actually prevent you from getting Medicaid assistance. Understanding there are options and ways to plan for your future need of Medicaid is an important resource for your future.
Medicaid planning is a way to get your assets, such as your personal home, made inaccessible to being considered your legal responsibility for paying the bills on. Having an attorney move around your assets to keep it away from the state can be a very difficult and complex process due to the passing of the Deficit Reduction Act of 2005 that made it harder to do any sort of Medicaid planning.
As you consider the rearrangement look at sheltering assets that can be counted against Medicaid, keeping your assets available for your loved ones and being able to provide for your spouse if you are married.
Planning for your future is important. Contact an estate planning attorney in the Illinois area who is experienced in this area.
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Mar 25 2013
As a recent news article points out, estate planning is a necessity for everyone, not just the extremely wealthy. While the federal estate tax exemption may have now risen to over $5 million, this is not a reason to forego estate planning. While your heirs might be nowhere near the threshold for paying estate tax, there are still many important reasons to engage in estate planning, no matter your financial worth.
First, estate planning can prevent surviving family members from fighting, or at least minimize any fighting that occurs. When you make a comprehensive estate plan, you give your family explicit directions about how you want your property distributed. While some family members may not like the choices that you made in executing a will or a trust, it is pretty difficult for them to argue with those choices. As a result, there is at least a decreased chance of family members fighting over what you leave behind when you express your wishes through estate planning.
Next, estate planning avoids probate and saves time and money. If you engage in careful estate planning, then there will be no need for probate. You can arrange that all of your property will pass to whomever you wish to have it following your death without the probate or a court ever intervening. Probate proceedings can be costly and lengthy. If you are able to avoid probate, however, it will be far more beneficial to your surviving family members.
Finally, estate planning can help you even prior to your death. Part of estate planning is typically executing documents such as a power of attorney and a living will. These estate planning documents tell your family how you wish certain situations to be handled prior to your death, such as whom you want to make decisions for you if you are unable to make decisions yourself.
For help devising the estate plan that is best for you and your family, contact a DuPage County estate planning attorney today.