Estate planning can be an uncomfortable topic for some people, but it is vital to think carefully about the benefits a properly constructed estate plan can provide to your family. When an individual dies without any estate plan in place, Illinois state law considers all their property and assets “intestate.” Their surviving family must endure a protracted probate process that divides the deceased’s property among their beneficiaries according to state law.
You can help your family avoid the need to endure probate by creating a comprehensive estate plan. Our team at McKenna Law, PC, understands the sensitive nature of estate planning and provides compassionate guidance and support to every client who comes to us for assistance with their estate plans. Attorney McKenna and our team can evaluate your needs and goals and help you configure an estate plan that suits your family’s best interests.
The main benefit of creating an estate plan is limiting uncertainty for your family after your death. If you do not have an estate plan, the court will divide your property and assign responsibility for the remaining debts according to the state’s intestate succession laws. The court’s determination will align closely with state law, and their ruling may conflict with your personal preferences and family dynamics.
Taking time to create an estate plan can allow your family to avoid most if not all probate proceedings after your death. As long as the estate plan is legally enforceable, it is possible for your family to settle your estate quickly and efficiently, saving them all a significant amount of time, money, and stress they would otherwise expend in probate proceedings.
While it is technically possible to create your own estate plan, the average person is likely to overlook crucial details when they try this alone. Though there are many software applications and other affordable tools you could try alone, it is not the wisest course of action. You could create what seems to be a comprehensive estate plan only for your family to encounter acute problems that lead to protracted probate proceedings.
Hiring an experienced Crystal Lake, Illinois estate planning attorney to assist you in creating your estate plan is the best way to ensure your plan accomplishes its intended goals. You can rely on our team at McKenna Law, PC, to help you address each aspect of the estate planning process, helping you construct one that is legally enforceable and suitable for your family’s needs and interests.
We have years of experience providing legal representation for estate planning and probate proceedings. We can offer a wide range of estate planning and probate services, including:
Attorney McKenna and our team can help you determine the best configuration for your estate plan, assist you in addressing a loved one’s estate plan, and provide valuable guidance as you make crucial estate planning decisions.
Some of our clients require only simple wills or transfer of death instruments to accomplish their estate planning goals, while others require pour over wills with one or more living trusts and/or special needs trusts to protect the interests of their beneficiaries. At McKenna Law PC, we are focused on the needs of our clients in Crystal Lake, IL and we will tailor your estate plan to fit your needs.
A Last Will and Testament does so much more than simply express a person’s wishes as to how their property is to be distributed after their death. It affords the testator the opportunity to appoint guardians for the testator’s children if they should be minors at the time of the testator’s death. It also allows the testator to name executors—the persons in charge of gathering assets, paying bills, and finally distributing the property as the testator has directed. By expressly waiving bond requirements for those executors, a Will can save the estate thousands of dollars when it comes time to probate the estate.
A living trust is a vehicle typically used to help avoid probate by creating an entity—separate and apart from the maker—for the purpose of owning the maker’s assets during his or her lifetime. Generally, the maker is the sole trustee during his or her lifetime, thereby retaining complete managerial control over the assets and how they are used. Likewise, the maker is the sole beneficiary of the trust, meaning that the maker retains the right to enjoy the assets owned by the trust. Like a Will, the trust also directs where the maker’s assets should be distributed upon the maker’s death, and also appoints the persons who will act as successor trustees to carry out such direction.
Irrevocable trusts are typically used as vehicles for gifting, and can be particularly effective in certain situations. For example, if an intended recipient is receiving public aid or assistance, a gift to an irrevocable trust set up for such recipient’s benefit is a way to provide supplemental funds or property for the recipient without jeopardizing the recipient’s qualification for public assistance.
A Durable Power of Attorney for Property enables a person to appoint someone else to transact business on behalf of such person. It should specify when the appointment becomes effective and can be as general or specific with respect to the authority granted as desired. A “Durable” Power of Attorney is one that remains effective even if the person granting it becomes mentally incapacitated. A Power of Attorney for Health Care enables a person to appoint someone else to make medical decisions for such person, such as whether to require or withhold medical treatment, if such person is unable to make such decisions for himself or herself.
A transfer on death instrument is a revocable instrument that allows a property owner to transfer residential real estate to one or more beneficiaries on the owner’s death, without the necessity of probate or the financial risk of joint tenancy.
When a person dies, it is oftentimes impossible for those left behind to access the decedent’s bank or investment accounts, or to sell the decedent’s vehicles or real estate, Even if the person left behind is a surviving spouse or child. Likewise, just because someone is named in a Will as the executor, that, by itself, does not confer upon the named executor any authority whatsoever. There first must be a procedure of some sort to gain the authority to access such assets. We realize that when clients come to us at this time they can be uncertain, confused, and on top of everything, are likely grieving, which makes the process all the more unsettling.
We are here to analyze the particular situation and explain the steps that need to be taken. Our solution is to shepherd them through an efficient and orderly administration of the decedent’s estate, whether that means the necessity of a formal probate estate, or utilizing other means, such as a small estate affidavit, to accomplish the transfer of assets.
An estate plan should include a last will, trust, advance care directive, and durable power of attorney. The trust can designate a representative to distribute your assets according to your wishes included in your last will. The advance care directive ensures your family knows how to honor your preferences for medical treatment if you become incapacitated. A durable power of attorney grants your chosen personal representative the legal power of your signature.
It is normal to have apprehensions about estate planning, and everyone has unique needs and concerns when it comes to end-of-life plans. At McKenna Law, PC, we can offer compassionate legal guidance for your estate planning needs. We can also represent you and your loved ones in estate administration or probate after the death of a family member. If you need guidance with your estate plan or want to arrange legal counsel for estate administration or probate, our team is ready to assist you. Contact us today to schedule a consultation with our team and learn more about the estate planning services.
We invite you to contact our office. Let’s talk about how we can be of assistance to you.