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DuPage County estate planning lawyerIt is tragically common for children of any age to experience serious problems following the death of a parent. What may have begun as typical sibling rivalry and relatively minor annoyances may develop into an irreparable chasm between brothers and sisters when their mother or father is no longer there to mediate. In some cases, sibling estrangement is inevitable, as years of competition and hurt feelings may eventually lead to a permanent rift. In other situations, however, conscientious estate planning by the parent can help prevent more serious problems from developing.

If you have noticed that your children struggle to get along with each other at times, an experienced estate planning attorney can help you put together a plan designed to reduce friction and promote healthy relationships.

Discuss Certain Elements of Your Plan in Advance

Jealousy is one of the most common factors between estranged siblings, but communication can often alleviate such feelings before they become problematic. Before you formalize your estate plan, sit down with your children and have a frank discussion about the future. Your children are not responsible for making your estate planning decisions, but their input can be very valuable in developing a plan that will foster ongoing relationships when you are gone.

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Lombard estate planning lawyerIt seems that at least a dozen times a year, we hear of families fighting over the distribution of assets of a deceased person’s estate. At first glance, it may seem silly to squabble over such matters, but many underestimate the emotional value that can be placed on a tangible item. Maybe it is that china set used for family holiday dinners that everyone is fighting over. Or, perhaps it is simply easier to focus on the argument than the grief of losing a loved one.

Unfortunately, asset and estate arguments can also damage family relationships. Feelings get hurt. Words are said that are not truly meant. Resentment can live on long after the assets have found their homes. And, a good share of the estate may have been lost while trying to resolve the matter in probate court. Thankfully, careful planning can prevent family arguments before they start, regardless of any underlying issues.

Wills and Trusts – How They Differ

When people consider creating an estate plan, wills are what typically come to mind. However, there are many other tools that can be used when creating an estate plan—some of which may make all the difference between a family fight and a peaceful division of assets.

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Lombard estate planning attorneyThe 2015 landmark ruling by the U.S. Supreme Court in Obergefell v. Hodges was a game-changer of epic proportions. All couples—regardless of gender or sexual orientation—were given the right to marry in all 50 states. As such, they were afforded the very same rights as all married couples, including tax breaks and exemptions, ownership equality, and legal mechanisms that ensure survivorship and guardianship rights.

But, more than five years later, many couples are still facing legal challenges. Some are the same challenges experienced by all married couples. Others are completely unique to LGBTQ relationships. Regardless, couples should plan accordingly with an estate plan that reflects their needs and wishes in the event of an unexpected health complication or death.

Rights Under the Marriage Equality Law

Just like all other married couples, same-sex couples may file their taxes jointly, receive the same tax exemptions, have access to survivorship benefits under all pensions, insurance, and retirement benefits, give tax-free gifts to one another, and have spousal priority and identity in the event of their partner’s incapacitation or death. These provisions are guaranteed at both the state and federal levels and cannot, under any circumstances outside of divorce, be revoked by any government agency.

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