The last thing you want to think about is what will happen after you pass away. While this feeling is understandable, it’s also important to plan for your death and even incapacitation to ensure maximum protection and minimum stress for your loved ones. This is where a strong estate plan can make a huge difference.
At the Law Office of Dionna Reynolds, LLC, we can help you draft detailed estate planning documents that are tailored to meet your specific needs. They include wills and trusts designed to ensure that your wishes are carried out when you can no longer express them yourself.
According to a 2019 survey from Caring.com, 76% of respondents thought a will was important, but only 40% actually had one. Those who didn’t have wills cited reasons like lack of assets and not knowing how to get started.
Contrary to popular belief, you don’t need to have a sizable estate to benefit from a will. As a basic element of estate planning, you can use it to:
- Identify the beneficiaries who will inherit your property
- Name a guardian for your minor children
- Appoint someone to manage your minor children’s property until they reach legal age
- Name a representative to ensure the terms of your will are carried out
You can prepare a will with as little or as much detail as you wish. It can even be used to set up trusts for the benefit of your spouse, a loved one with a disability, and/or for minor children. Having a will can ensure that your wishes will be carried out as intended, as there is some court supervision over the probate process.
Trusts can be set up to support a wide range of estate planning goals. While their primary benefit is to help you minimize estate taxes and avoid the expense of probate, you have different options, some of them intended for very specific purposes. Common examples include:
- Revocable living trusts that help you avoid probate, ensuring a bigger inheritance for your beneficiaries.
- Irrevocable living trusts that protect your estate from creditors and can help you qualify for needs-based government programs such as Medicaid.
- Irrevocable life insurance trusts that remove the death benefit of your life insurance policy from your taxable estate.
- Special needs trusts that provide for the future of vulnerable loved ones.
- Qualified personal residence trusts that remove the value of your residence from your taxable estate with little or no gift taxation.
- Credit shelter trusts to reduce Illinois estate taxes for your spouse.
When you’re planning for your family’s future, an experienced legal professional can help make the process less daunting. That’s where the experienced and compassionate estate planning team at the Law Office of Dionna Reynolds, LLC can help.
Q. What if I Die Without a Will in Illinois?
If you die without a will, your property will be distributed according to the Illinois laws of intestate succession, which may not necessarily be in accordance with your wishes. For example:
- If you are survived by a spouse and children, your spouse receives half of your estate and the children split everything else. If any children have predeceased you, their share will pass on to their children.
- If you’re only survived by your spouse, they inherit your entire estate. If you have children but no spouse, the estate is split equally between them.
- If you have no spouse or children, your parents and siblings typically inherit everything in equal shares. Should you have no immediate family, succession moves to more distant relatives, such as aunts, uncles, and cousins. If you have no surviving family members who can be located, the estate escheats to the county where you lived.
Drawing up a will can ensure that your money and property go directly to your chosen beneficiaries and prevent an outcome you would never have wanted.
Q. Do I Need a Will or Estate Plan if My Property is Owned Jointly?
Yes. In some cases, joint tenancy can be part of an estate plan, but it does not cover all scenarios or contingencies, such as what happens after the death of the surviving joint tenant. Regardless of how your assets are titled, they should be addressed in a will or trust, to ensure a degree of certainty over how they end up being distributed.
We will sit down with you, review all of your assets, and come up with wealth preservation strategies that include scenarios like joint tenancy. We will use our understanding of Illinois wills and trusts law to craft a solution that gives you peace of mind.
Q. Do I Need an Attorney to Create a Will or Trust?
There are a lot of DIY will kits and other estate planning tools that purport to create valid legal documents. While they may be more affordable, the mistakes that can arise from using a templated document can cost you and your family even more later on.
If you hire an estate planning attorney from our law firm, you can rest assured that your estate plan is both legally valid and structured according to your unique wishes and needs. We can also help you update your will or trust as your life circumstances change. Doing estate planning on your own all too often results in expensive and embittered litigation, unnecessary delays, and tax-inefficient transfers of property.
Let Us Help You Plan for the Future
At the Law Office of Dionna Reynolds, LLC, we will listen to your goals, evaluate your situation, and help you understand your legal options. We will also:
- Give you straightforward advice about using a will or a trust as part of your estate plan
- Help you craft comprehensive estate planning documents that meet your needs
- Provide advice regarding estate and gift taxes and proper titling of assets
Attorney Dionna Reynolds and her team are dedicated to providing clients with comprehensive, quality, and compassionate legal guidance in the Chicagoland area. To schedule a consultation, call 708-981-3344 or contact our office online.