Estate planning is a difficult but necessary undertaking. While no one likes to ponder their own mortality, creating a will, trust, or power of attorney is a critical step in preserving your wealth, taking care of your loved ones, and expressing your healthcare wishes in the event that you are unable to do so.
The Law Office of Dionna Reynolds, LLC has been helping clients protect their legacies, minimize financial risk, and provide for their families since 2011. We will assist you in achieving your immediate and long-term objectives and ensure that your wealth goes where you wish when the time comes.
Questions and concerns that frequently arise during the estate planning process include:
- How can you make sure that your minor children will be taken care of?
- Should you leave your estate to your beneficiaries directly or set up a trust?
- What implication could a separation or divorce have on your assets?
- How can you secure your children’s inheritance if they get divorced?
- How can you protect your business?
- How do you minimize probate fees?
What does Estate Planning Involve?
Estate planning is the process by which you make arrangements for the future disposal of your estate. It can involve complex issues like wills, trusts, probate, taxes, powers of attorney, and so forth, which is why you want to work with a Chicago state planning law firm that will listen to your needs, explain your options, and then create a plan that reflects your goals.
Estate planning is not only for the elderly or those with significant wealth and assets. No matter what stage you are at in life, a well-rounded estate plan can provide for your loved ones while protecting your hard-earned assets.
Critical Components of an Estate Plan
Although there are several estate planning tools available, the documents below are included in most plans.
- Will: A will can help you direct who will receive your property and take care of any minor children after you pass. Without one, your estate will be divided according to the Illinois laws of intestacy, with results you may not have wanted.
- Trust: Revocable trusts and irrevocable trusts allow you to protect your estate and preserve as much as possible for the next generation. You can also use a trust to take care of a special needs family member or ensure that you are eligible for Medicaid when the time comes.
- Durable Powers of Attorney: You can appoint someone to make medical or financial decisions on your behalf. The arrangement remains in place even if you become disabled or incapacitated.
- Advance Directive: In Illinois, there are four types of advance directives you can make to specify your medical treatment during times of incapacity. They are a Health Care Power of Attorney, which appoints someone to make medical decisions for you; a Living Will, which applies if you have a terminal condition; a Mental Health Treatment Preference Declaration, which gives advance consent for treatments like psychotropic medicine and electroconvulsive therapy, and a Do-Not-Resuscitate Order that expresses your wished for end-of-life treatment.
Why You Need An Estate Planning Lawyer
To save money, people are often tempted to create their own estate plan by downloading a few forms (which may be out of date) or following online guidance that may not even be valid under Illinois law.
Taking the DIY route can result in a legally invalid plan that exposes your family and your estate to unintended consequences. For example, your durable power of attorney will be invalid under the Illinois Power of Attorney Act if you did not sign it in the presence of a notary public and at least one witness who is not your doctor, successor agent, or relative of the latter.
An Illinois estate planning attorney will help you create a will, trust, or other estate planning tool that complies with all relevant laws and delivers the best tax benefits. If you own a business or are married but have children from an earlier relationship, your lawyer will know how to navigate these situations in a manner that protects everyone’s best interests.
Other Areas of Practice
In addition to estate planning, the Law Office of Dionna Reynolds can assist you with the following legal services.
Let us help you structure an estate plan or business entity designed to protect your personal assets from creditor claims and judgments.
Real Estate Acquisition and Sale:
We guide homeowners and investors through the often-complicated process of buying and selling real estate in the Chicago area.
We help new and established businesses with contract drafting and review, entity formation, business litigation, general counsel services, and more.
Nonprofits and Articles of Incorporation:
If you are starting or managing a nonprofit, we will assist you with key steps that include but are not limited to articles of incorporation.
Q. Does the Court Still Get Involved if I Have a Will?
Yes. The court requires a will to be filed within one month of someone’s death, and the probate process follows, in most cases. The probate process removes the deceased’s name from the title of an asset (such as real estate, a car, or a yacht) and replaces it with the new owner’s name.
Thus, unless you own your assets jointly with a right of survivorship, which means they automatically pass to the other person upon your death, those assets will go through this legal process. If you’re concerned about probate taxes impacting inheritances, talk to us about finding a solution.
Q. What is the Difference Between a Revocable and Irrevocable Trust?
A revocable living trust can be changed at any time. When you change your mind about a provision, such as who should be the beneficiary, you can amend it. The entire trust itself can even be revoked or undone if you decide that it no longer serves your needs. There is a potential pitfall that comes with this flexibility, however – because you still have access to the trust property, it can be seized by creditors or to satisfy a judgment against you.
An irrevocable trust cannot be altered by the grantor after it has been signed, constituted, and funded. When you place property into an irrevocable trust, you cannot take it back. You also cannot act as a trustee and manage the trust’s assets. In general, the terms are forever, although there are a few rare exceptions. Although comparatively rigid, irrevocable trusts can protect your assets from seizure and help you qualify for means-based government programs like Medicaid.
Q. What is a Special Needs Trust?
A Special Needs Trust is a special type of trust that holds title to the property on behalf of a disabled child or adult. As a result, government benefits eligibility can be maintained, and the special needs child is provided with enough assets from your estate to meet their supplemental needs.
Special Needs Trusts must be designed specifically to supplement public benefits, not to replace them. If not, the government could attempt to seize trust assets for repayment of provided services or determine that the beneficiary does not qualify for continued benefits. We can thoroughly analyze your loved one’s needs to determine the appropriate plan for them.
Contact an Experienced Estate Planning Attorney Today
Preparing for a future that you won’t see is emotionally daunting, but it is a necessary step in ensuring that your property goes to your intended beneficiaries and the financial burden on them is minimized. Attorney Dionna Reynolds and her team will help you create the estate planning instruments that fit your needs and modify them as your life changes. For more information or to schedule a consultation, call 708-981-3344 or contact our office online.