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Lombard estate planning attorneyMost people are vaguely familiar with the concept of a last will and testament. However, there are actually many different documents that individuals use to distribute their assets and property upon their death. Wills and trusts sometimes get lumped together, but they serve different purposes. You may choose to use one, both, or neither based on your own personal circumstances and wishes.

A will is a document in which a person—the grantor—dictates what they want to happen to their property after they have passed away. He or she designates beneficiaries who then receive the assets and property upon the grantor’s death. A trust, by comparison, is a legal arrangement which allows a third party, called the trustee, to hold assets on behalf of a beneficiary or beneficiaries.

One significant difference between a will and a trust is that a will goes into effect only after the person who authored it, passes away whereas a trust can be effective immediately. Also, a will can only govern the distribution of property owned in the testator's sole name. Assets that pass directly to a beneficiary by contract or law, such as life insurance policies or joint tenancies with rights of survivorship, cannot be addressed by a will. Trusts, on the other hand, can manage and distribute any property the grantor chooses. Trusts can include life insurance policies and tenancy-in-common interests.

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Lombard estate planning lawyersIf you watch television at certain times of the day, you are likely to see occasional advertisements for reverse mortgages. These ads often run in similar timeslots as commercials for arthritis medication and electric scooters. It is clear that they are intended to reach a certain demographic—namely, seniors who are starting to consider the reality that they will not live forever. As with most television pitches, it understandable that the audience would be skeptical, but a reverse mortgage may be an option for certain individuals and families.

Reverse Mortgages Defined

Most people understand that a standard mortgage is a financial arrangement in which a lender provides a borrower with money to buy real estate, including a home. The property itself is the collateral used to secure the loan. The borrower makes regular installment payments until the amount borrowed and any accumulated interest is repaid.

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Lombard estate planning attorneyThe maxim that nothing in life certain except death and taxes has persisted in American culture since Benjamin Franklin used it as a quip in a letter more than two centuries ago. While death and taxes are undoubtedly certain for most people, it is the combination of the two that can be troubling for many individuals and families. Between estate taxes, inheritance taxes, and other tax obligations, it can be expensive when a loved one dies. Through proper estate planning, you and your family may be able to limit your tax liabilities, however, and a relatively new tool may be available to help you do so.

What Is an IDF?

Insurance dedicated funds (IDFs) were introduced in the early 2000s, and despite their bland name, they have quickly become a hot item in the world of finance and asset protection. Such funds are rather complicated and subject to complex rules and regulations, but their appeal is based primarily on their ability to legally avoid taxes by meeting certain requirements.

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DuPage County estate planning attorneysIf you were to ask your family members—including your spouse, children, grandchildren, or anyone else you wish to include—how your property should be distributed when you die, you would probably get a wide variety of responses. Some are likely to suggest that you divide your estate equally, though there are likely to be many versions of what “equal” means. Other family members may simply remind you that you have the right to make the decisions as you see fit.

Human emotion, however, is often unpredictable. Thus, the same people who tell you to do what you think is best may very well be the same ones who get upset when they find out that their inheritance is less than they expected to be. While you cannot control how your family will behave after your death, you can take steps to prepare them for that reality well in advance.

Decide What Is Important

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