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Lombard estate planning attorneyIn life, there are few absolute truths; the fact that things change is one of them. When such change includes divorce or remarriage, other aspects of your life—including your estate plan—must be adjusted to accommodate. Failure to do so can result in negative consequences, particularly for those who stand to inherit. So, if you are planning a major life change, it is important to know how you can address it accordingly in your Illinois estate plan.

Estate Planning After a Divorce

After a divorce, all of your financial documents must be reviewed and updated as needed. This, of course, includes all aspects of your estate plan, including your health or financial powers of attorney, beneficiaries, life insurance policies, and retirement accounts. Keep in mind, however, that these changes should be done according to the agreement made during your divorce. In some instances, the judge may rule that your ex-spouse remains a beneficiary on certain policies or accounts—possibly as security for maintenance or child support payments. Clarify these agreements whenever possible, and always request written confirmation from insurance companies or life insurance companies to ensure they have received your change requests.

Also, remember to make considerations regarding any family members of your ex-spouse. Under Illinois law, any provisions in your will and many other estate planning documents that pertain to your spouse are automatically voided when your divorce is finalized. However, this is true for your spouse only. Any provisions that you made in your estate plan regarding your spouse’s family will remain in effect until you change them. Failure to do so could mean that your in-laws will inherit a portion of your estate upon your death, and there will be little anyone can do about it at that point.

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Lombard estate planning lawyerEvery day, our world becomes increasingly reliant on digital technology. In many ways, it has made life easier to manage. We can transfer money from savings to our checking accounts through our phones. We can deposit checks with the simple click of a button. We can change our investments in the blink of an eye. But, there are some blind spots when it comes to technology and the way we use it, especially when it comes to estate planning.

Overlooked Assets

One of the biggest issues with the digital era is that there are so many accounts in so many places, from social networks to music and video libraries, and even smartphone-accessible investment accounts. Sometimes, those planning to pass on their assets forget to list some of their accounts. In other instances, they simply did not understand the importance of their account. Alternatively, they may acquire the account after creating their estate plan and forget to update their plan to add it. Regardless of the reason, the end result of a forgotten account is the same: money that should have gone to one’s heirs is left on the table.

The Password Protected

Most accounts—whether they be social, personal, or financial—require that the owner set up a password to protect their account. Even when various accounts are connected, family members and estate executors must access the initial account. Unfortunately, if such individuals do not have the passwords, they are likely to experience a great deal of trouble gaining that access—so much so that the courts may not even be able to untangle the matter.

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Lombard estate planning lawyerThere is nothing wrong with a little do-it-yourself (DIY) work. In fact, there are few things that are quite as satisfying as a job that you have done well. However, there are times when a particular job is best left to the professionals. You would not try to completely rewire your house if you had no experience in electrical work. Similarly, estate planning should be done with the help of someone with working knowledge and experience in the industry. Granted, an estate plan gone wrong may not pose the same physical threat as an electrical DIY project, but there are still dangers that can and should be avoided.

The Importance of a Clear and Valid Estate Plan

When it comes to mistakes in estate planning, the future of your loved ones may be placed at risk. Efforts to save money in the short-term—such as using commercially available kits or DIY programs to create your estate plan—could end up costing your heirs more down the road. Unclear or improperly executed estate plans can take months, if not years, to hash out in probate court. All the while, your estate dwindles as a result of attorneys’ fees, taxes, court costs, and other administrative expenses. In some cases, this could take a sizable chunk out of your estate, which means you will be leaving behind a lot less than you had intended.

Common Mistakes Made in DIY Estate Planning

The opportunity for mistakes in estate planning are nearly endless. Some are more common than others, however. For example, many DIY estate planners use the wrong documents or make critical errors in their preparation. Others fail to accurately consider the tax implications of their estate. For example, a DIY estate planner may draw up a plan according to federal tax laws but fail to factor in how local state taxes will affect their estate. Or, they may attempt to consider both state and federal tax implications but improperly calculate their earnings or the value of their estate.

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DuPage County estate planning lawyer

You do not have to be materialistic to become sentimental about a loved one’s possessions or to feel slighted by the contents of his or her will or estate plan. In fact, even the most down-to-earth people may feel a sense of injustice when a will or trust appears to have been altered, coerced, or otherwise manipulated. The good news is that if you have the right information and the right resources, you may be able to contest the will and put things right again.

Grounds for Contesting a Will

While any “interested party” may contest a will (siblings, children, spouses, etc.), the contesting party must have valid grounds for doing so. In other words, you cannot simply challenge a will because you feel like it was unfair, insulting, or mean-spirited. You can, however, contest a will if you believe one of the following is true:

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DuPage County estate planning attorney wills and trusts

When a married person decides to develop an estate plan, the person’s spouse will almost always be involved in the process. But, what happens if you are ready to start making a plan for the future and your spouse is not? You know your spouse better than just about anyone else does, so you probably realize that nagging him or her about it will probably not work. Begging or threatening is not likely to be successful either. There are, however, some things you can do to start the estate planning process despite your spouse’s reluctance. In doing so, you might just be able to convince your spouse that there is no time like the present to plan for what lies ahead.

Start On Your Own

Obviously, it would be best for everyone involved if your spouse decided to get on board before you start your estate plan, but if he or she continues to refuse, you should look for the things that you can do by yourself. For example, you can draft a will that addresses the assets that you own and specifies what will happen to them upon your death. If your solely owned assets are substantial, you might consider working with an attorney to create various types of trusts as well. Additionally, you can appoint a power of attorney for health care or property without your spouse’s input.
At this stage, you should also compile a list of your joint accounts and investments. If you outlive your spouse, there is a good chance that you will be responsible for these assets—especially if your partner never makes an estate plan. This will also be helpful to your heirs and loved ones if you and your spouse were to both die within a short period of time.

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