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“The life of the law has not been logic; it has been experience.”

-Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr.

Estate Planning

 

The attorneys in our Estate Planning and Administration group are specialized in all aspects of counseling and preparing customized estate plans for our individual and closely held business clients. They work closely with each family to help define their goals. They then utilize their experience and technology to provide the appropriate means toward that goal – from a basic estate plan for an individual through a more complex business succession plan.

Our attorneys utilize a variety of individualized options such as wills, powers of attorney, revocable and irrevocable trusts, marital trusts, charitable trusts, family limited partnerships and special needs trusts for disabled children and adults. Usually several options are presented to the client who can choose the cost and level of complexity that suits them.


Estate Planning Services


A Guide To Incorporating A Trust Into Estate Planning

A Guide To Incorporating A Trust Into Estate Planning

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The primary reason people give for estate planning is to ensure their final wishes about the distribution of their assets are carried out. Examples of final wishes you may include in a will are how and where to bury you, how to dispose of your personal property and what to do with the family home. Once you begin including other factors, such as tax planning, the desire for keeping your financial affairs private or handling multiple real estate holdings, your estate plan becomes more complex.


Categories Estate Planning Trusts & Wills


Debunking Five of the Most Common Myths About Estate Planning

Debunking Five of the Most Common Myths About Estate Planning

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One of the more difficult tasks for an attorney is to get clients to create an estate plan. The truth is that most people would rather do almost anything other than contemplate and prepare for their own inevitable passing. This is a shame because estate planning is the best way for a person to provide for the financial security of family and loved ones.


Categories Estate Planning


What Crimes Bar Inheritance?

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The Appellate Court for the First District has found that conviction of perjury and obstruction of justice in a murder case are not necessarily bars to inheriting form the murder victim.

Darota Chaban married William Chaban in Las Vegas on June 9, 2007. When they returned to Chicago on June 13, 2007 and informed Darota’s mother Irene of their marriage, Irene was initially upset. On June 18, 2007, Irene was discovered dead by Darota and William at Irene’s condominium. Irene was last seen on Friday, June 15 at her place of employment. Darota told the police and a grand jury she had not been at her mother’s condominium on June 15 or the rest of the weekend, she was never in the condominium on June 15 and she was with William most of the day. After being confronted with phone records placing her in the condominium on Friday, Darota admitted she had lied and claimed she was following William’s instruction. Darota was convicted of perjury and obstruction of justice. William was charged and convicted of first degree murder of Irene and sentenced to 45 years in prison. Darota filed a petition to probate Irene’s will and the court appointed her administrator of the estate. Darota later resigned and the trial court appointed the Administrator. The Administrator argued Darota was barred from inheriting her mother’s estate by 755 ILCS 5/2-6 (“Slayer Statute”) and provides, in pertinent part:


Categories Estate Planning Legal Updates


Back to Basics – Estate Planning Part III

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Recently we discussed four reasons most families will benefit from estate planning. This post concludes this topic with two more ways an estate plan can help carry out your goals for your family.

With the federal estate tax exemption amount now set at $5.25 million for 2013 and $5.34 million for 2014, and increasing annually with inflation, it may seem like estate planning is no longer important. While it is true that most estates will escape this tax, (the estate tax will affect less than 0.2% of decedents over the next decade) there remain many critical issues that most families want to address in an estate plan once they become aware of them. These issues do not depend on your age or level of wealth, but they will make your survivors wish you had bothered to prepare a written estate plan!

If you have no will or trust, you still have an estate plan – it is the set of default rules that will impact your estate after your death. If you desire to change any of the default results, then you need a written estate plan. The issues that seem to matter most to the majority of our estate planning clients include:

1. Surety Bond. If you have no will in which you waive surety on your executor’s bond, that expense alone can run into thousands of dollars per year for as long as your estate remains open.

2. State Estate Tax. Many states impose estate tax at lower levels of wealth than the federal statute. In Illinois, an estate will be subject to tax on assets exceeding $4 million. If you own property in states outside Illinois, also check their state estate or inheritance tax laws, and then review any existing will or trust document you may have, especially if it was drafted more than a few years ago. The document probably contains a formula for funding a marital trust or a family trust (a/k/a “credit shelter trust”), that may not suit your current needs, as it was assuming a much lower estate tax exemption amount when it was drafted. In a federally non-taxable estate valued at $5.25 million, the Illinois estate tax cost can be as high as $357,000.00.

These issues are not all-inclusive of the reasons your family may greatly benefit from a written estate plan. If you are in a financial situation that puts your estate at risk of paying estate tax, that issue must be carefully addressed to take full advantage of two exemptions for a married couple, and can incorporate other estate tax saving measures. Whether you have an old estate plan that should be reviewed, or whether you are starting from scratch, we would be happy to discuss your needs and propose an estate plan that will accomplish your goals.

For more information, feel free to contact Patricia Kraft, Timothy Murtaugh or John Egan.


Categories Estate Planning Legal Updates


Back to Basics – Estate Planning Part II

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View the previous post in this series – Back to Basics – Estate Planning Part I

Recently we discussed two reasons most families will benefit from estate planning. This post continues with two more ways an estate plan can help carry out your goals for your family.


With the federal estate tax exemption amount now set at $5.25 million for 2013 and $5.34 million for 2014, and increasing annually with inflation, it may seem like estate planning is no longer important. While it is true that most estates will escape this tax, (the estate tax will affect less than 0.2% of decedents over the next decade) there remain many critical issues that most families want to address in an estate plan once they become aware of them. These issues do not depend on your age or level of wealth, but they will make your survivors wish you had bothered to prepare a written estate plan!

If you have no will or trust, you still have an estate plan – it is the set of default rules that will impact your estate after your death. If you desire to change any of the default results, then you need a written estate plan. The issues that seem to matter most to the majority of our estate planning clients include:

1. Children Receiving Inheritance at Young Age. With no estate plan in place, your heirs will receive their inheritance at age 18. Most young adults of this age are not ready to manage substantial sums of money, and a poor decision or two can mean there is insufficient money for college costs or other critical needs. Also, in some estates on the first spouse’s death, minor children’s inheritances are placed in custodianship accounts for distribution to the child at age 18, but this money is not available to the surviving spouse to use for the family’s basic needs until then. A Living Trust can set up parameters for your successor trustee to follow when making distributions to children for education and other needs. The money can be held back in trust for as long as you believe will be necessary.

2. Special Needs Beneficiary. If any of your heirs are disabled, whether children or adults, and even possibly your spouse, it is probable that their receipt of an inheritance would disqualify them from receiving government aid. Use of a Special Needs Trust would allow the inheritance money to be spent for items government aid does not cover, enhancing your family member’s quality of life, and would (in most cases) allow the amount remaining after their death to be paid to other family members.

These issues are not all-inclusive of the reasons your family may greatly benefit from a written estate plan. If you are in a financial situation that puts your estate at risk of paying estate tax, that issue must be carefully addressed to take full advantage of two exemptions for a married couple, and can incorporate other estate tax saving measures. Whether you have an old estate plan that should be reviewed, or whether you are starting from scratch, we would be happy to discuss your needs and propose an estate plan that will accomplish your goals.

For more information, feel free to contact Patricia Kraft, Timothy Murtaugh or John Egan.


Categories Estate Planning Legal Updates


Back To Basics – Estate Planning Part I

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With the federal estate tax exemption amount now set at $5.25 million for 2013 and $5.34 million for 2014, and increasing annually with inflation, it may seem like estate planning is no longer important. While it is true that most estates will escape this tax, (the estate tax will affect less than 0.2% of decedents over the next decade) there remain many critical issues that most families want to address in an estate plan once they become aware of them. These issues do not depend on your age or level of wealth, but they will make your survivors wish you had bothered to prepare a written estate plan!

If you have no will or trust, you still have an estate plan – it is the set of default rules that will impact your estate after your death. If you desire to change any of the default results, then you need a written estate plan. The issues that seem to matter most to the majority of our estate planning clients include:

1. Avoidance of Probate. Probate is an expensive and time-consuming court proceeding to settle a person’s estate, which can easily be avoided. Sometimes joint tenancies and beneficiary designations can avoid probate completely. But for an unmarried person, joint tenancy subjects assets to the claims of the joint tenant’s creditors. More appropriate ways to avoid probate on certain assets can include a land trust; a Transfer on Death Instrument; and a Living Trust. Remember, if you have real estate located in another state, your estate may be required to go through a probate proceeding in each state in which you own real estate.

2. Guardianship or Conservatorship. Should you ever become unable to manage your assets- even temporarily- a court must hold a hearing and appoint a guardian or conservator. A Living Trust can allow a successor trustee, chosen by you, to step in and manage your assets without the need for this court proceeding. A Power of Attorney can also avoid guardianship, and the choice between these options must consider the additional benefits to be gained by the use of a Living Trust.

View the next post in this series – Back to Basics – Estate Planning Part II

For more information, feel free to contact Patricia Kraft, Timothy Murtaugh or John Egan.


Categories Estate Planning Legal Updates


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