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The Basics Of Estate Planning

Estate planning is simply making wishes about how you would like your finances and property handled in the event that you become incapacitated or upon your death for the benefit of yourself and your loved ones. This is typically made up of several documents to address health issues, financial assets, and the care of minor children and/or vulnerable adults. Your estate plan is your parting gift to the people you love, and a well-ordered estate plan is a precious gift indeed.

Using Wills And Trusts In Estate Planning

Most people think of wills when they think of estate planning, but a will only relates to property that is subject to probate. This includes financial assets that are not part of a trust, property owned only in your name and any kind of asset that does not have a designated beneficiary. Examples of things that are not subject to probate include property owned in more than one name and property that has a beneficiary designation. We put wills into the category of miscellaneous estate planning tools.

Most estate planning tools are a will and/or a trust. Trusts are very useful estate planning tools that give you greater control over your estate than a will and typically make estate administration simpler for your survivors. Trusts can be created in tandem with wills, or trusts can be created as stand-alone documents. Learning about the benefits and uses of trusts is a key component of estate planning.

Minimizing Estate Taxes For Your Loved Ones

If you are fortunate enough to have a large estate, trusts are used for estate tax planning, along with other devices used to avoid or minimize the payment of estate taxes. Estate taxes become an issue at the threshold of four million dollars (State of Illinois), while the federal estate tax threshold is over five million dollars, currently. Of course, Congress is always talking about eliminating or changing estate taxes, so estate tax planning is always subject to change.

Using Power Of Attorney Documents In Your Estate Plan

Estate planning should always involve consideration of the possibility that you might become incapacitated during your life. We plan for incapacitation during life through the use of a property power of attorney and a health care power of attorney. Powers of attorney allow you to name an agent (typically a spouse, close relative or close friend) who you trust to step in and manage your personal affairs and make your personal decisions if you ever become incapacitated and unable to make those decisions or manage the affairs yourself. Powers of attorney ensure that the person(s) that you chose are the person(s) who will manage your affairs and make your decisions if you are unable to manage them and make them on your own.

Health care directives are another component of estate planning that should not be neglected. We never know what lies in wait for us in our future. We hope for the best but we need to plan for the worst. Illness, injury or sickness can strike anyone of us at any time. Having health care directives in place to guide the process if and when we are taken down by injury, illness or disease, is an important component of an estate plan.

A Well-Planned Estate Is A Lasting Gift For Your Heirs

An estate plan makes your wishes clear to your loved ones. It allows you to determine who will handle your estate, who will raise your children, who will receive your assets and how they will be managed. If you want to make the administration of your estate less costly and less time-consuming, and if you want to protect the assets you leave to your loved ones, a living trust can be used for that purpose. If you have a sizable estate, you can avoid or minimize state inheritance tax and federal estate tax with trusts. Put in place mechanisms for the management of your estate while you are living but unable to manage your own affairs with powers of attorney for health care and property.

Without gathering basic information and knowing your desires for your estate planning, we cannot quote fees to you upfront. We would be guessing about what you need and want. So, we offer an initial consultation at half our regular hourly rate in order to gather the basic information from the worksheet and meet with you to determine what you desire to do for your estate planning. We can then tell you what the cost will be based on that information and your direction. If you decide not to follow through with your estate planning, for whatever reason, you can keep the worksheet with the advice and guidance we have given you. If you decide to go forward with your estate planning, we will credit the initial meeting fee against the flat fee for the type of estate planning that you choose.

Contact Drendel & Jansons Law Group To Discuss Setting Up An Estate Plan

If you are ready to set up an estate plan, contact us today to set up a free initial consultation. Call us at 630-523-0543 or fill out our online contact form. We look forward to meeting with you and helping you plan for your legacy.

Estate Administration

In addition to estate planning, we handle various forms of estate administration.

  • Probate administration – Representing executors and administrators through the probate process and other interested parties in the probate process and related estate litigation (to challenge a will, to remove an executor or administrator, for collection of debts, etc.)
  • Trust administration – Representing trustees in the administration of trusts and other interested parties
  • Alternative forms of estate administration – Representing families and individuals in the alternative, nonprobate forms of administration of estates (such as small estate administration, administration with bonds in lieu of probate and the like)
  • Guardianship – Representing individuals in the establishment of guardianship for minors and disabled adults.
  • Adoption – Representing individuals and couples in related and unrelated adoptions.

Estate Planning Resources

Follow the link for educational and informative articles on wills, trusts, powers of attorneys, and many different nuances, principles, issues and considerations related to estate planning in our Estate Planning Blog. We believe that the best client is an educated client!