3 Reasons Why a Living Trust Is More Beneficial Than Just a Will

Web Admin - Wednesday, January 23, 2019
Des Plaines living trust lawyerIf you wish to leave a legacy to your children or other beneficiaries after your death, it is imperative that you have an estate plan that will ensure prompt and accurate distribution of your assets. Many people think that writing a will is the best way to do this. However, while a will is important, putting your assets into a revocable living trust can provide several additional benefits.

Avoid the Illinois Probate Process 

In order to distribute assets according to the terms of a will, the will must go through the probate process. This involves filing various court documents required by law to establish the value of each asset and to re-title each asset from the deceased’s name to the recipient’s name. This can be a long, drawn-out process.

Secure Adult Heirs’ Immediate Access to the Estate

One of probate’s most serious drawbacks is the freezing of assets. Specifically, any assets that are held solely in the name of the deceased are frozen upon their death. Imagine a married couple who amassed several large investment and retirement accounts and multiple pieces of real estate during their lifetime. Upon the death of both spouses, their children cannot touch any of the assets until a probate court judge approves the will and appoints a Personal Representative to handle the estate. Leaving large investment accounts without active management can be risky.

By comparison, imagine that all of the couple’s assets had been placed in a living trust, meaning that the assets are titled in the name of the trust rather than in the name of any individual. Upon the death of the trust-maker, their designated successor has immediate access to the assets of the trust.

Secure Assets for the Long-Term Benefit of the Family

Imagine our married couple has three children and has a will. Upon the death of both spouses and probate action, the assets of the estate must be divided amongst the named heirs. Assuming the estate is to be divided equally among the three children, the inherited assets are now at risk to creditors, bankruptcy, a lawsuit, or a divorce. 

Creditors. If the married couple had all of their assets in a trust, ownership of those assets can remain titled in the name of the trust indefinitely. Because the assets are not titled in the individual children’s names, the assets are protected from creditors, even if one child files for bankruptcy or gets divorced. The beneficiaries named in the trust will have access to the assets in accordance with the directions specified in the trust documents. 

Heirs with disabilities. Upon the death of the spouses, one child (or an objective third party such as a bank) could be named as the successor trustee with directions to manage the trust in a certain way. This approach can be used to ensure that the use of the assets is prioritized in some way, such as to meet the basic needs of a child or grandchild with a disability. Keeping the assets in the trust can also serve to protect the right of a disabled heir to receive needs-based government benefits.

Underage heirs. Keeping the trust open with a successor trustee can also be beneficial for heirs who have not yet reached adulthood. When a will leaves assets to a minor, the probate court must appoint a conservator to manage the minor’s assets. Once our fictional married couple has died, there is no telling who that conservator might be and what decisions they might make. In contrast, assets left in a trust can be managed according to specific directions written into the trust. Thus, the maker of the trust can dictate when and for what purposes a youthful (or even as-yet unborn) heir can access their inheritance.

Consult a Palatine Revocable Living Trust Lawyer

A well-thought-out living trust can give you greater peace of mind and benefit your heirs in the long run. To discuss options for writing or updating a living trust, call an experienced Schaumburg living trust attorney at Drost, Gilbert, Andrew & Apicella, LLC. We have prepared living trusts for many high-asset families with complex issues of inheritance. To set up a free initial consultation, call 847-934-6000.

About the Author: Attorney Jay Andrew is a founding partner of Drost, Gilbert, Andrew & Apicella, LLC. He is a graduate of the University of Dayton School of Law and has been practicing in estate planning, probate, trust administration, real estate law, residential/ commercial leasing, contracts, and civil litigation. Since 2005, Jay has been a Chair of the Mock Trial Committee for the Annual Northwest Suburban Bar Association High School Mock Trial Invitation which serves over 240 local Illinois students each year.


Recognizing Abuse or Neglect in a Nursing Home or Assisted Living Facility

Web Admin - Wednesday, January 16, 2019
Schaumburg nursing home negligence lawyerIf you have an elderly relative who lives in a nursing home or assisted living facility, or perhaps is staying temporarily in a rehab center, you could arrive for a visit one day and find that your loved one appears to be seriously ill or injured. There are certainly many ways this can happen through no fault of the facility or caregivers. However, if you see any signs that an illness or injury was the result of nursing home negligence, abuse, or neglect, you should consult a personal injury attorney to determine your legal options.

Examples of Nursing Home Neglect in Illinois

In one recent Illinois case, a nursing home resident died as a result of a head injury sustained during a fall. While being transferred from her bed to her wheelchair via a mechanical lift, the resident fell out of the lift, striking her head. A wrongful death lawsuit was subsequently filed seeking $100,000 in total damages based on two specific claims of negligence. First, the facility’s policy stated that transfers via a mechanical lift were to be performed by two trained staff members. However, in this case, it was alleged that only one staff member was present. The lawsuit also alleged that the facility failed to act with appropriate care in response to the resident’s documented status as “high risk for falling.”

Another recent lawsuit alleged that a nursing home neglected to give appropriate care to a bedridden resident. The resident entered the nursing home specifically to receive care for pressure sores. Rather than improving, the sores grew worse and became infected. The resident’s family members alleged that the facility was negligent in failing to take appropriate action to treat the bedsores. The resident wound up needing surgery and ongoing wound care treatment for two more years, with one small, open wound still remaining at the time of the lawsuit. This case went to trial, which is unusual, because most civil disputes are resolved via pretrial negotiations. The jury awarded the resident $1.25 million, which included $475,000 for past pain and suffering, $300,000 for future pain and suffering, and an additional $475,000 for the facility’s violation of state laws designed to protect nursing home residents.

Consult a Palatine Elder Abuse Attorney  

If you have an elderly relative who may have been abused or neglected by a caregiver, your first step should be to carefully document each specific incident with photographs, times, dates, and names of possible witnesses. Then, call an experienced Arlington Heights nursing home neglect lawyer. The law firm of Drost, Gilbert, Andrew & Apicella, LLC has obtained compensation for our clients in numerous cases of personal injury, including cases involving negligence or malpractice in healthcare settings. Contact us at 847-934-6000 to schedule a free consultation.

Ken ApicellaAbout the Author: Attorney Ken Apicella is a founding partner of DGAA focusing in the areas of personal injury, employment, insurance coverage disputes, and civil litigation. Ken earned his J.D. from DePaul University College of Law in 1999. He has been named a SuperLawyers Rising Star and a Forty Illinois Attorneys Under Forty to Watch. Ken has written and lectured for the Illinois Institute for Continuing Legal Education and regularly serves as a moderator at Northwest Suburban Bar Association's Continuing Legal Education seminars.


Nature or Negligence? Recovering Damages for Winter Injuries

Web Admin - Wednesday, January 09, 2019
Des Plaines personal injury lawyer snow iceThere are many ways you can be injured during the winter months in Illinois: skiing, ice skating, sledding, snowmobiling, being hit by ice falling off a roof, being in a car accident during a snowstorm, or simply slipping and falling on an icy walkway. In many cases, these are simply accidents. If you choose to participate in an activity like ice skating or skiing, you accept the risk that you could fall and get hurt. However, if your injury can be attributed to another party’s negligence, you could be entitled to compensation and should consult a personal injury attorney for advice.

Illinois Law on Hazardous Recreational Activities 

Under Illinois law, if you are injured while participating in or watching a “hazardous recreational activity” on public property, you cannot sue a “local public entity nor a public employee” for compensation (745 ILCS 10/3-109). For example, Cook County and DuPage County have numerous parks and forest preserves with hills and trails where you might go sledding, skiing, or even rock climbing in the wintertime. If you are injured while taking part in those types of activities, the park and park employees generally cannot be held liable. 

However, the law does make two exceptions, in which case you may be able to file a claim for damages. The first exception applies if your injury was caused by “an act of willful and wanton conduct” by a public entity or employee. For example, if you were cross-country skiing on a marked trail and were hit by a park employee driving a vehicle along that trail, you could have grounds for a lawsuit.  

The second exception applies if your injury was caused by the failure of a public entity or employee to provide warning about a known dangerous condition that a reasonable person would not anticipate. For example, suppose park employees dumped a pile of rocks on a sledding hill. The park knew that the snow-covered rocks were a hazard that created a substantial risk of injury and that a visitor could easily assume it was just a snow drift. If a sledder was injured by colliding with that rock pile, a court might rule that the park was negligent and should have posted signs or put up fences to warn people that the hill was not safe for sledding. However, if a sledder runs into the trees that line the edge of a sledding hill, the park would likely not be held liable for any resulting injuries, because the trees were readily visible to everyone as a hazard.

When You Can Claim Compensation for Snow/Ice Injuries

In addition to the law described above, there are several other Illinois laws that limit liability for injuries related to snow and ice removal, general maintenance of streets and sidewalks, and participation in hazardous recreational activities. Also, many recreational facilities require customers to sign liability waivers.

However, any injury that can be attributed to someone’s “willful and wanton conduct” can still be grounds for a lawsuit. Willful and wanton conduct is defined as “a course of action which shows an actual or deliberate intention to cause harm or which, if not intentional, shows an utter indifference to or conscious disregard for the safety of others or their property.” 

For example, numerous people have been injured or killed in Chicago by large chunks of ice falling off buildings. Many of these people have received compensation for their injuries from the building owners, who were deemed negligent for failing to warn pedestrians of a known danger. 

Similarly, if you are injured by faulty rental equipment or poorly maintained facilities while ice skating or skiing, you could have grounds for a lawsuit. 

Consult a Schaumburg Personal Injury Attorney 

If you have been injured in a winter accident that can be attributed to someone else’s negligence, see a doctor and then consult a knowledgeable Palatine personal injury lawyer. At Drost, Gilbert, Andrew & Apicella, LLC, you will receive the personal attention of a small firm with the comprehensive legal skill and sophistication of a large firm. Contact us at 847-934-6000 to schedule a free consultation.

Ken ApicellaAbout the Author: Attorney Ken Apicella is a founding partner of DGAA focusing in the areas of personal injury, employment, insurance coverage disputes, and civil litigation. Ken earned his J.D. from DePaul University College of Law in 1999. He has been named a SuperLawyers Rising Star and a Forty Illinois Attorneys Under Forty to Watch. Ken has written and lectured for the Illinois Institute for Continuing Legal Education and regularly serves as a moderator at Northwest Suburban Bar Association's Continuing Legal Education seminars.


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