Estate Planning FAQs

Estate Planning FAQs

There is considerable confusion and misconceptions surrounding the topic of estate planning. You will want the help of an experienced Illinois and Indiana estate planning lawyer when you have estate planning needs that you want to fulfill or want to learn more about your options.

Spagnolo & Hoeksema, LLC helps clients in numerous communities throughout Illinois and Indiana with all kinds of estate planning issues. We can answer all of the questions you might have and create a plan that achieves your goals. Reach out to our firm today to learn more about how we help with all estate planning matters and answer your questions.

Estate planning is the process of making decisions about who you want to manage your assets and how you want your assets to be handled in the event you become incapacitated and then after you pass away. During the process, you can:

  • Establish who you would want to act as a guardian of any minor or adult dependent children
  • Potentially minimize taxes
  • Decide who makes personal, medical, and financial decisions for you should you be unable to do so yourself
  • Outline the direct distribution of all your assets
  • Provide for any adult children with special needs

Estate planning will turn your wishes into reality with binding legal documents, though it is not always a simple process. To avoid any hiccups, you need help from an estate planning attorney.

Many people mistakenly assume that estate plans are only for people with a great deal of wealth or that a will is not necessary because state law distributes property appropriately to family members. But failing to establish a valid estate plan means giving up important rights regarding how assets are allocated and who gets what.

Whether items have real market value or sentimental meaning to you, you’ll need an estate plan if you want to have a say in how they are distributed after your passing. Having an estate plan will protect your family from future conflict, including estate-related litigation, potentially minimizing estate taxes, and ensuring that all of your decisions are established in accordance with the law.

Every adult should have an estate plan, no matter their wealth, and you should not hesitate to start the process with help from our firm.

Yes. As part of the estate planning process both in Illinois and Indiana, we will prepare and assist you in executing the proper documents to nominate healthcare agents who can make healthcare decisions on your behalf if you are unable to do so for yourself.

After people die, ownership of their assets and ability to manage their affairs must be overseen by the court if their assets were owned by them at their death. Probate refers to the legal process that occurs in the court system when court authority is used to ultimately transfer assets into someone else’s name. A judge will oversee the process and the individual who is appointed by the court is obligated to follow all of the statutory guidelines.

Probate courts also oversee guardianship proceedings in both Illinois and Indiana. Guardianship courts help to manage both the assets and the care of minors and incapacitated adults who are not capable of caring for themselves.

Those people who have established a complete estate plan that includes a fully funded living trust or other legal tools can avoid probating their assets.  Additionally, the companion documents executed during estate planning, such as powers of attorney, a health care power of attorney in Illinois, or an Advance Directive for Health Care in Indiana, can help to avoid the need for a guardianship.

However, estate planning is not one size fits all, and the attorneys of Spagnolo & Hoeksema, LLC, in both Illinois and Indiana, can meet with you to discuss what best suits your situation. You can also avoid probate by naming beneficiaries or owning assets in joint tenancy with rights of survivorship.

Simply put, a will only goes into effect after a person dies. A trust can benefit you both during your lifetime and after your death.

A will specifies the distribution of all your individually owned assets after you die, names an executor to administer the estate, and a guardian for any minor children. A revocable living trust may manage and distribute your property before and after your death.

A testamentary trust is one that only goes into effect through probate after death. Both wills and revocable living trusts can provide for testamentary trusts to control assets following a death. A living trust is a trust a person creates during their lifetime and can either distribute its assets to other beneficiaries upon death or morph into a testamentary trust to further control the distribution of assets to beneficiaries.

The primary difference is that you can change or rescind a revocable living trust following its creation, and you must give up control over assets owned by an irrevocable living trust.

A revocable living trust becomes irrevocable upon death, though upon death, both revocable and irrevocable trusts may include provisions that require the assets to be either distributed or remain in the trust until some future event as determined by the trust document.

If you are considering creating an estate plan, never try to handle everything on your own. Make sure you are working with a skilled estate planning lawyer who can listen to all of your needs and work to accomplish all of your goals.

Spagnolo & Hoeksema, LLC invests heavily in estate planning needs and can take you through the entire process of creating an estate plan on your own time. Call us or contact us online to request a consultation so we can discuss what we can do for you.

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