Estate planning allows people to exert control over an uncertain future. We help our clients put plans in place to help them (and their loved ones) in the event of their disability or death. We also help them navigate through the process when disability or death occurs.
Important issues facing our loved ones could have a significant impact on us. Accordingly, we recommend that people not only plan for themselves but also encourage their loved ones to plan. For example, if your parents have no plan, who do you think will be left to deal with the consequences?
We educate, counsel and guide our clients so that they understand their options, consider alternatives and are able to make informed decisions that give them comfort. We then prepare the legal documents (e.g. Will, Revocable Living Trust, Health Care Power of Attorney, Property Power of Attorney, Life Insurance Trust, etc.) that make our clients’ decisions legally enforceable. The documents are designed to accommodate certain unknown future events, reduce time delays, avoid problems, and take advantage of opportunities.
Through planning, our clients can determine how they want things to happen and who they want to help take care of things in the event that they are unable to do those things for themselves. Proper planning can help provide financial security for our clients and their loved ones, protect their families (from themselves and others), reduce frustration, minimize legal fees, avoid Probate Courts, minimize estate taxes, and take control of the process. This can only be achieved through an estate plan, and without this, the outcome is determined by state and federal laws, Probate Courts, lawyers, doctors and complete strangers.
Whether or not an estate plan is in place, we counsel our clients to help them determine what makes sense to them now, not what they may have wanted 10 years earlier. Clients often engage us to tell them whether their existing documents still make sense in light of their current goals or whether revisions would be advisable.
A good plan will not just help your loved ones upon your death but will also help you and your loved ones in the event that estate administration is required.
Estate administration involves handling matters when a person becomes disabled or dies. When you or a loved one becomes disabled or dies a variety of personal, legal, financial and tax matters must be addressed.
If valid documents are not in place then Illinois law requires that the matters go to the Probate Court and the judge assigned to the case will decide who will take care of personal and financial matters. That is, the judge appoints the Guardian of the Person and Guardian of the Estate. This court process involves doctors, lawyers and input from family, friends, and often a Guardian ad Litem. The process can turn into litigation if there is disagreement among your family members and friends.
We counsel our clients on the legal issues, practical considerations, and possible options involved in Guardianship. We then help our clients through the process taking into consideration the best interests of the disabled adult, emotional toll, costs, time, and frustrations.
A wide variety of legal, income tax, estate tax, financial and administrative matters may have to be addressed when someone dies. We help our client (i.e. executor, administrator, trustee) through the process, whether or not Probate is required.
If the deceased had estate planning documents we review them to determine that they are valid and enforceable under the law. Assuming they are valid, we then assist our client in interpreting the documents in light of the applicable law and facts. If there are no valid estate planning documents, we help determine who is entitled to what assets, whether Probate is required and who has the legal right to speak on behalf of the estate.
We work closely with our client to carry out the wishes of the deceased, fulfill the client’s legal and ethical responsibilities, minimize costs and problems, and make the process as efficient and stress free as possible. In addition to customary estate administration services, we can advise our clients regarding Estate tax and Income tax issues and prepare Federal and state Returns.