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Lombard estate planning attorneysThe benefits of proper estate planning cannot be overstated. Drafting a will, trust, or utilizing other estate planning documents puts you in charge of you and your family’s future in a way that nothing else can. Having a comprehensive estate plan also saves your loved ones the burden of making highly personal decisions on your behalf if you are incapacitated or pass away. Many married couples, especially couples with children, recognize the importance of estate planning. However, there are some situations in which one spouse is interested in estate planning but the other spouse does not want to participate. If you are married and interested in gaining the many benefits that come with a comprehensive estate plan but your spouse is disinterested, consider the following tips.

Consider Why Your Spouse Is Not Interested in Estate Planning

Estate planning can bring up many upsetting topics. Wills and trusts deal with what happens to your property upon your death. Advance medical directives dictate how healthcare and financial decisions should be made on your behalf if you are incapacitated through illness or injury. Naming a guardian for minor children forces you to consider who you would want to raise your children if you and your spouse pass away before the children are adults. It is completely understandable that many people would want to avoid these topics – especially if they do not understand the advantages estate planning brings.

Speaking with your spouse about why he or she does not want to participate in the estate planning process may give you insight about how to help them overcome their hang-ups. It is important to remember that while estate planning does deal with unpleasant topics, the peace of mind you will gain from having your plans in place far outweighs the discomfort of facing these topics. 

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DuPage County estate administration lawyersIf you have started creating your own estate plans or you have recently lost a loved one, you may have heard the term “probate.” This term is used to refer to the legal proceedings which transfers a deceased individual’s assets to heirs. If the deceased person, or decedent, has signed a will before he or she died, the probate courts determine whether or not the will is enforceable and oversee the distribution of the decedents’ assets. If a decedent does not have a will or the will is not enforceable, the probate process is much more involved. Because it can often be time-consuming and expensive, many people try to avoid probate through careful estate planning.

What Happens During Probate?

The probate process differs from estate to estate depending on several factors. If the decedent had a will, the judge will ensure that the will meets the criteria required by Illinois probate law. Wills must be written and signed by the deceased person. If evidence exists to suggest that the deceased person wrote their will under undue influence or that the will is fraudulent in some way, the will may be invalidated.

If the decedent had identified an executor in their estate plans, the judge will assign this person several responsibilities. The executor must distribute the decedent’s assets according to the will, notify the decedent’s creditors of the decedent’s death, pay the decedent’s final bills, and file income taxes on their behalf. Generally, the executor role falls to the decedent’s next of kin if there was no prior determination regarding this important responsibility.

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Lombard estate planning lawyersEvery adult should have some type of estate plan in place. Even just a relatively simple will could provide a great deal of security and direction for surviving loved ones in the event of a tragedy. However, the reality is that more than half of Americans do not have an estate plan of any kind.

While there may be many reasons for this, arguably the most common is procrastination. Most people realize that an estate plan is a good idea, but it is not always something that is a high priority. As a result, people tend to wait until they approaching retirement age to begin the process. Those who wait, unfortunately, often find themselves the unwitting targets of scammers who are simply looking to make money as they prey on the fears and uncertainty of those looking for peace of mind.

What Are Trust Mills?

Estate planning scams can take many forms, and they are not limited to shady-looking, back-alley operations. Fully licensed attorneys have been known to take advantage of estate planning and administration situations in an attempt to collect unnecessary fees. Trust mills are another common source of estate planning scams that you should be aware of.

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DuPage County estate planning attorneyMore than half of Americans do not have any estate planning documents in place at all. Those that do most often have a will and nothing more. However, there are many estate planning instruments above and beyond a last will which can be greatly beneficial. One of these instruments is a trust.

Some people shy away from trusts because they do know exactly how trusts work or how a trust can benefit them and their family. Others assume that only the wealthy require trusts to handle the distribution of assets after their death. Neither of these estate planning myths is true. Read on to learn about the basics of trusts and how a trust may be able to work for you. 

How a Trust Works

In a last will and testament, an individual writes directions for how his or her property should be distributed to heirs upon his or her death. A trust can also address how property is passed down to beneficiaries, but in a different way. A trust establishes an agreement between a testator and a trustee. The testator is the person creating the trust and may also be referred to as a settlor or grantor. The trustee is tasked with managing the settlor’s assets and distributing those assets according to instructions contained in the trust. The trustee is a fiduciary with a legal obligation to follow the terms of the trust and avoid any self-dealing or conflicts of interest in managing assets contained in a trust.

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Lombard estate planning attorneyAlthough we generally consider marriage to be primarily a romantic relationship, when two people join their lives together, it is also a financial union. Many studies show that disagreements about finances are the top predictor of divorce. One of the best ways that engaged couples can avoid this pitfall is to be upfront, honest, and proactive about financial plans and concerns from the very beginning. If you are a newlywed or plan to “take the plunge” this summer, it is important to consider the estate planning steps you should take to safeguard your family’s financial future.

Create Your Last Will and Testament or Update Your Existing Will

In past blog posts, we have discussed some of the most ubiquitous misunderstandings about wills. Perhaps the greatest myth regarding wills is that they are only needed after a certain age. The reality is that an adult of any age will benefit from creating a will.

Although it is unpleasant to think about, unexpected tragedies happen every day. By creating a will now, you are safeguarding your ability to make decisions about what happens to your debt and property after you pass away. Furthermore, creating a will helps you identify and explore your current financial situation. This can help you and your soon-to-be-spouse better discuss financial concerns and plans for the future. If you already have a will, you will need to update it after getting married. An experienced estate planning attorney can be a valuable resource when drafting or updating a will.

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