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Including Your Caregiver in Your Estate Plan

 Posted on March 21, 2019 in Estate Planning

Lombard estate planning attorneyAs you get older, your needs are going to change. Many people require more medical and personal care in their later years than they did when they were younger. If this happens to you, your loved ones and family members will probably be on board with helping as much as possible, but they might not be able or equipped to provide the level of care that you need. In such a situation, you might need to rely on an independent caregiver—someone that you are not related to or do not really know in any other capacity. While a caregiver might be a stranger at first, it is possible that you will become closer with him or her over time. Depending on the circumstances, your caregiver might do so much to help you that you even think about adding him or her as an heir in your will.

What the Law Says

Several years ago, lawmakers in Illinois updated the Illinois Probate Act of 1975 (755 ILC 5) to address inheritances left to non-related caregivers. The 2015 amendment addressed situations in which an estate planning instrument, including a will or trust, left more than $20,000 to a caregiver who was not related to the decedent. Under the amended law, a transfer of property greater than $20,000 is presumed to be fraudulent in the event that the transfer is subject to a challenge. The presumption of fraud will invalidate any instrument making the transfer.

The law, as it now stands, might seem harsh, but it was passed with good intentions. A caregiver often has virtually unrestricted access to a person whose health, age, or mental capacity might leave him or her especially vulnerable. A dishonest caregiver could fairly easily exercise undue influence over the person and convince him or her to write a new will or to add provisions that will benefit the caregiver. Family members and other would-be beneficiaries might not even know about the changes until after the person dies.

Be Open and Communicate

In spite of the amended law, your assets are your assets, and if you want to leave an inheritance for your caregiver, you have the right to do so. You may honestly see and treat your caregiver as a part of your family, and you can add him or her to your estate plan. To make it happen, however, you will need to take a few extra steps in setting up your will or trust, and an estate planning lawyer can help.

Perhaps the most important step is to let your family know what you intend to do. Sit down with your children and other family members and have an open conversation. Tell them your plans, and make it clear that you are making the choice on your own. By letting them know your reasons, you can reduce the likelihood of problems going forward.

A Lombard Estate Planning Attorney Can Help

If you would like to learn more about including your caregiver in your will or other estate planning documents, contact an experienced DuPage County estate planning lawyer. Call 630-426-0196 for a confidential consultation at A. Traub & Associates today.



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