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What Is Involved in Administering an Illinois Estate or Trust?

Web Admin - Thursday, October 22, 2020
Rolling Meadows estate and trust administration lawyerEstate planning involves outlining someone’s wishes regarding finances, property, and medical care in the event that he or she becomes incapacitated and is unable to make those decisions, or when he or she passes away. These essential and legally binding documents are often referred to as living trusts, and the person who creates it is called the “grantor.” This type of trust requires minimal maintenance during the grantor’s life. Upon the grantor’s death, however, the trust becomes irrevocable and certain legal actions must be taken to enforce it. While every trust and estate is unique depending on an individual’s situation and wishes, the trust administration includes certain actions by the party named to take care of it, called the “trustee.” Administering a trust avoids the expense of going through the probate process. In addition, it offers more privacy, because the case does not go to court and it is not available to the general public.

Steps for Administration


The trustee who is named in the trust document oversees the administration of the terms of the trust. The trustee is tasked with ensuring that the directives of the deceased person are followed. It is important to note that trustees are obligated to take care of any and all property under their control until said property is officially transferred to its beneficiaries.
Here are the main legal steps that are required when administering someone’s estate or trust in Illinois: 

- Apply for a tax identification number from the IRS for tax return purposes.

- Notify pertinent third parties of the death, including information on the trustee and tax consequences.

- File tax returns on the decedent’s behalf if applicable.

- Make decisions for the investment and disposition of assets.

- Pay federal and/or state estate tax if applicable.

- Pay the decedent’s debts and the trust’s administration costs.

- Create and fund any sub-trusts created per the terms of the original trust.

- Divide and distribute (or retain in trust) shares to any named beneficiaries.

- Communicate with the trust’s beneficiaries.

- Carry out any other relevant terms of the trust instrument.

Contact a Long Grove Estate Planning Lawyer


Planning for the future by creating a comprehensive estate plan can help safeguard against disputes between family members. If you were designated to administer an estate or trust in Illinois, it is crucial that you seek professional legal guidance before taking on this important endeavor. At Dross, Gilbert, Andrew & Apicella, LLC, we are prepared to put our proven methods to work for you. Our seasoned Kenilworth trust administration lawyers are well-versed in Illinois laws and how they may affect your case. Call our office today at 847-934-8000 to learn more by scheduling a free consultation.

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.



Source: 
https://www.ilga.gov/legislation/ilcs/ilcs5.asp?ActID=4001&ChapterID=61

How Is Exculpation of Trustees Addressed Under the New Illinois Trust Code?

Web Admin - Monday, December 30, 2019
Mount Prospect estate planning lawyer Illinois Trust CodeAs the new year begins, many trust owners (grantors) and trustees are familiarizing themselves with the Illinois Trust Code. As of January 1st, 2020, Illinois has adopted a new set of governing rules over trusts that will be linked to the Uniform Trust Code (UTC). This law involves many changes and updates to the rules surrounding trusts, and one area that has been affected is the modification of exculpation clauses. Moving forward, both grantors and trustees should consult a legal professional to either create, adjust, or better understand their trusts. 

What Does Exculpation of a Trustee Mean?


An exculpatory clause is a provision that can be added to a trust that would relieve a designated individual from responsibility for certain actions. Under the Illinois Trust Code, the exculpation of a trustee would relieve him or her of any liability for a breach of the trust. However, trust relieving will be unenforceable if it is determined that the exculpatory term:

- Absolves a trustee of liability that is committed with deceitful intentions or with carelessness to the purpose of the trust or the interests of the beneficiaries.
- Was inserted because of a trustee’s abuse of a legal or confidential relationship with the grantor. 

Unless the trustee can prove that the exculpatory term was justified under the current situation and that it was adequately communicated to the grantor, the term will be found invalid. For example, if a trustee purposefully acted in a way that was determined to be against the trust in an effort to benefit themselves, that trustee could be responsible for his or her actions.

What Is Changing?


Under previous Illinois law, a grantor of a trust was able to exonerate a trustee from personal liability by including an exculpatory clause into the trust. Although exculpatory clauses can still be used under the Illinois Trust Code, there is now a presumption that they will be found invalid if the trustee created or forced the clause to be added. In order to prove that an exculpatory clause is legitimate, a trust maker should be represented by a third-party counsel during the drafting of the trust.

Contact a Riverwoods Estate Planning Attorney


Due to the significant changes that have been implemented under the Illinois Trust Code, it is important for trust makers and trustees to understand the new policies. If you wish to add an exculpatory clause, or if there has been a breach in your trust, you should work with an attorney to determine your legal options. At Drost, Gilbert, Andrew & Apicella, LLC, our experienced Barrington trust lawyers can work with you to ensure your trust meets the requirements of Illinois law. For a free consultation, call our office today at 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.


Sources:
http://www.ilga.gov/legislation/ilcs/ilcs5.asp?ActID=4001&ChapterID=61

How Does the Illinois Trust Code Affect Trustees and Beneficiaries?

Web Admin - Wednesday, September 25, 2019
Long Grove estate planning lawyer Illinois Trust CodeMany people utilize trusts to protect and manage their assets and ensure that these assets are properly distributed to their beneficiaries either before or after their death. However, the laws regarding trusts are changing. Effective January 1st, 2020, the Illinois Trust Code (ITC) will be replacing the current Illinois Trusts and Trustees Act. The ITC is linked in certain ways to the Uniform Trust Code (UTC), which is an arrangement of laws designed to establish consistent trust laws between different states. Before the ITC is implemented, trust makers and trustees may need to review their current trusts and determine how the changes to the law may affect them. 

New Default and Mandatory Rules


When a person creates a trust, they place their assets in the control of a trustee, who will oversee the process of managing these assets and distributing them to the beneficiaries according to the terms defined in the trust. The ITC specifies a number of rules that must be followed regarding trusts. While a trust may provide a trustee and beneficiaries with certain rights, powers, duties, limitations, and immunities, the ITC states that:

- A trustee must act in good faith.
- The trust must be lawful and cannot violate public policy.
- A trust may nominate one or more people to serve as the designated representative of a qualified beneficiary, and this representative must act in good faith in the best interests of the beneficiary.
- A trust may not be enforced for more than 21 years.
- The court is granted the power to modify or terminate a trust.
- Spendthrift provisions can be authorized by the court.
- A person who is acting as an agent in a power of attorney must have express authorization in order to act on behalf of a trust settlor. 
- The court may adjust the compensation provided to a trustee if it is deemed to be too high or low.
- A trustee must notify each qualified beneficiary of the trust’s existence, the beneficiaries’ right to a copy of the trust, and whether the beneficiary can receive or request trust accountings. 
- A trustee must send an annual trust accounting to the current beneficiaries.
- A trustee must send a trust accounting to all of the beneficiaries upon the termination of a trust.
- If a trust contains terms waiving a trustee’s liability for breaching the terms of the trust, these terms may be unenforceable.

Contact a Schaumburg Estate Planning Lawyer


The ITC may have significant implications for currently-established trusts, as well as for trusts that are created in the future. Before the ITC is enacted, discussing your questions and concerns with an experienced Arlington Heights trusts attorney could help ensure that your rights as a trustee or beneficiary are protected. At Drost, Gilbert, Andrew & Apicella, LLC, we can help you address any legal issues related to trusts, or we can help you create a trust to protect your assets and distribute them to your beneficiaries. To further discuss your specific situation, contact our office today at 847-934-6000 for a free initial consultation.

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.


Sources:
http://www.ilga.gov/legislation/ilcs/ilcs5.asp?ActID=4001&ChapterID=61

What Should Be Included in a Living Will?

Web Admin - Thursday, August 15, 2019
Schaumburg living will lawyerWills are part of the estate planning process, an area of law that is sometimes underused or is not completed before emergency strikes. Generally, wills come into effect after a person passes. They outline how an individual’s estate and assets will be divided, who will carry out their last wishes, and who will take on the responsibility of caring for their minor children. Living wills are also meant to plan for emergencies, but they work in a different time frame and serve a different purpose.

Why Create a Living Will? 


Living wills are created to address what should happen in the case of a terminal illness or life-threatening injury. This type of will comes into effect when someone cannot make medical decisions for themselves, has a terminal condition, or is in a vegetative state. In other words, a living will is effective during a person’s lifetime, not afterward. Because such traumatic events are unpredictable, many individuals will formulate a living will which allows them to make decisions about the medical treatments they do or do not want to receive, and they can make these choices when they are still mentally and physically capable of doing so. These legal choices and directions are also known as advance medical directives, and they tell physicians and family members what to do in emergency situations.

What Can a Living Will Decide?


Living wills outline what type or level of care a person would like in the instance of medical emergencies. These options typically include:

- Use all treatments available to try and save their life;

- Try all treatments, but stop them if they do not work within a certain time period;

- Only utilize treatments that do not cause discomfort or pain; or

- Only provide care to help ease the pain, but no treatments that are intended to save or prolong the person’s life.

While almost every type of treatment can be addressed in a living will, there are a few specific treatments that are included in most living wills because they greatly impact a person’s quality of life. Individuals often decide whether or not they would like to allow tube feeding, life support, and/or cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR). Those who do not wish CPR to be used can also sign a Do Not Resuscitate (DNR) order and add this to their living will. This will ensure that no artificial means of resuscitation will be used, even if it would be necessary to live. A power of attorney is another legal document that can be tied to a living will. This grants a person the permission to carry out the legal decisions that they have outlined when they are unable to make these decisions for themselves.

Contact an Arlington Heights Attorney


Creating a living will should not be left for times when you are facing health difficulties. Instead, it should be done while you are physically and emotionally capable of doing so. Estate planning may seem like an area of law that should be left for the future, but medical emergencies can never be predicted. At Drost, Gilbert, Andrew & Apicella, LLC, our lawyers have experience with all areas of estate planning, and we can help you keep your present and future best interests a priority. If you are considering creating a living will, contact our Palatine, IL estate planning attorneys at 847-934-6000 to schedule a free consultation.

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.


Sources: 
https://www.investopedia.com/terms/l/livingwill.asp
https://www.drugs.com/cg/living-will.html
https://work.chron.com/power-attorney-do-9474.html

5 Tips For Non-Traditional Families When Creating an Estate Plan

Web Admin - Friday, June 28, 2019
Barrington estate planning lawyer same sex couplesToday’s families come in many forms. In fact, there are fewer “traditional” families than ever in which two opposite-sex parents are married for the first time and have children together. Since divorce is common, and couples often choose to live together and have children without getting married, many families include step-parents and step-children. In addition, the legalization of same-sex marriage has resulted in complex family arrangements involving biological children and adoptive children. Regardless of how a family is configured, it is important to plan for the future and ensure that all family members’ needs will be met. For non-traditional families, it is important to consider the following during the estate planning process:

1. Update your will - Your last will and testament specifies how you want your assets to be distributed to your heirs after your death and any other last wishes. You will want to be sure that your will addresses your partner, your children, your step-children, and any other family members.

2. Create a trust - In addition to your will, a trust can provide more control and flexibility for how you would like your assets to be distributed to your beneficiaries. A living trust can be changed or modified if necessary, and it can also be used to provide for your and your partner’s needs during your life.

3. Use power of attorney - While married spouses have the right to make decisions for each other, this is not always true for unmarried couples. A power of attorney agreement can be used to ensure that partners will be able to make medical or financial decisions for each other if one of them becomes incapacitated.

4. Consider a prenuptial or postnuptial agreement - When you get remarried, your new spouse will typically be entitled to receive half of your estate following your death. A prenup or postnup can ensure that certain assets will be set aside for any children you may have from a previous marriage or relationship.

5. Address plans for retirement - If you have any retirement funds saved in an account such as a 401(k) or IRA, you will want to be sure to name beneficiaries who will receive these funds following your death. You can name your spouse or partner as a beneficiary, as well as any children or step-children.

Contact a Kenilworth Estate Planning Attorney


When creating a comprehensive estate plan, you will want to be sure all of your family members will be provided for. Determining how to do so when you are in a non-traditional family can be a complex matter, and an experienced attorney can help you address issues involving same-sex partners, children from previous marriages, adoptive children, or other family members. Contact our Riverwoods estate planning lawyer today at 847-934-6000 to schedule a free consultation.

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.


Sources:
https://digitalcommons.law.seattleu.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1773&context=sulr

What Types of Charitable Trusts Can I Use in My Estate Plan?

Web Admin - Friday, May 31, 2019
Kenilworth charitable trusts attorneyA trust is a legal agreement created by the owner of assets or property that designates an individual (a trustee) to manage the assets and distribute them to the beneficiaries named in the trust. Assets can be distributed either during the life of the person who creates the trust (known as the grantor) or after their death. In many cases, a grantor chooses to pass their assets to relatives or close friends; however, some may also wish to support a cause they believe in by naming a charity as a beneficiary. In these cases, charitable trusts can be used, and they typically fall into one of two categories: charitable lead trusts and charitable remainder trusts.

Charitable Lead Trusts


This type of charitable trust has a time limit tied to the funding that is provided to one or more charities. Once the time period ends, the rest of the assets are given to non-charitable beneficiaries. The process begins with an initial donation to fund the trust. Charitable lead trusts do not require a minimum or maximum charitable payment amount, and a grantor may prefer to make a cash contribution to be eligible for immediate tax deductions. The payments will then be sent to at least one charity of the grantor’s choosing. This must be done at least once a year for a specific number of years or for the remainder of the lifespan of the grantor. Once the trust’s term has ended, the rest of the funds are given to the beneficiaries chosen by the grantor.

Charitable Remainder Trusts


Many will choose charitable remainder trusts because they can provide regular income for the grantor or their beneficiaries in addition to donating assets to charity. This type of trust is almost the exact opposite of a lead trust, with assets being distributed to beneficiaries during the term of the trust, and any remaining assets being donated to charity after the grantor’s death. 

The first step in creating a charitable remainder trust is making a partially tax-deductible donation. This can include cash, stocks, real estate, or private business interests. During the term of the trust or the remainder of the grantor’s life, assets held in the trust may be distributed to beneficiaries, such as the grantor’s loved ones or even the grantor themselves. Beneficiaries can receive income only once per year or as frequently as every month. After the grantor’s death, the selected charity or charities will receive the remainder of the assets. 

Contact an Arlington Heights Charitable Trusts Lawyer


Estate planning is an extremely complicated process that requires extensive attention to detail. While charitable trusts can provide a number of benefits, it is important to ensure that the correct steps are followed when creating this type of trust. At Drost, Gilbert, Andrew & Apicella, LLC, we can help you determine which trusts will be best for you and your beneficiaries. Contact a Long Grove estate planning attorney at 847-934-6000 for a free consultation.

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.


Sources: 
https://www.fidelitycharitable.org/philanthropy/charitable-lead-trusts.shtml
https://www.fidelitycharitable.org/philanthropy/charitable-remainder-trusts.shtml 


Why Everyone Over Age 18 Should Have a Power of Attorney

Web Admin - Wednesday, April 24, 2019
Barrington power of attorney lawyerA power of attorney is one of the most basic, and yet most important, legal protections that every adult should have. A power of attorney (POA) is a legal document that gives another person the authority to act in your place when you cannot be physically present yourself or if you become incapacitated. There are two types of POA, for property and for healthcare. A power of attorney for property authorizes a designated person to handle your financial affairs, while a power of attorney for healthcare empowers your named representative to make medical decisions on your behalf. 

When Is the Right Time to Create a Power of Attorney?


Imagine that you are struck tomorrow by a catastrophic accident or sudden incapacitating illness. If you are married, your spouse should have access to your financial resources to pay for your medical care and the right to make medical decisions on your behalf. But consider what would happen if you are not married or if your spouse is incapacitated at the same time you are. Do you think your immediate family members would agree on who should take charge of your financial affairs and make medical decisions for you? Having a POA in place will head off disputes that could cause long-term rifts in a family.

Young adults often assume that their parents will be able to step in and handle everything in such an event. However, once you turn 18, your parents do not necessarily have the legal authority to access your medical records and bank accounts and to make healthcare and financial decisions on your behalf. 

Similarly, adults with aging parents may assume they can step in at any time and take over their parents’ affairs. However, why leave it to chance? Do you really want siblings fighting over who is going to take charge? Instead, encourage your aging relatives to sign powers of attorney while they are still competent to make that choice. The POA can be a first step toward creating a comprehensive will and estate plan.

What Does a Power of Attorney for Property Do?


You can create a very limited power of attorney document for a specific situation, such as authorizing your lawyer to handle a real estate closing for you when you cannot be present in person. More commonly, the purpose is much broader. A power of attorney document will specify a list of decisions that your designated representative can make on your behalf, such as selling your home; trading stocks, bonds, and other investments; collecting Social Security and other retirement benefits on your behalf; paying bills from your checking account; managing a trust account; and filing your tax returns.

What Does a Power of Attorney for Healthcare Do?


When you prepare a POA for healthcare, you can specify the powers that your designated representative will have and when those powers will take effect. The medical topics covered in a healthcare POA may include:

- Whether your POA will have full access to your medical records.

- Whether you want extraordinary measures taken to keep you alive as long as possible or instead wish to prioritize quality of life over length of life.

- In what type of circumstances you want life-sustaining treatment to be administered or withheld, or whether you would only like pain-relieving medication to be administered.

- Whether you want to be an organ donor upon your death.

- How you want your mortal remains handled upon your death, e.g., burial or cremation.


Consult a Schaumburg Power of Attorney Lawyer


An attorney can serve as a neutral third party when you need to convince an elderly relative to sign powers of attorney while they are still competent, particularly if you are assisting them with moving out of their home and into some type of assisted living facility. If you need a POA for yourself but are not sure what powers you want to grant your designated representative and when you want those powers to take effect, an experienced Palatine estate planning attorney can explain your options. Call Drost, Gilbert, Andrew & Apicella, LLC at 847-934-6000 to set up a free initial consultation.

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.


Sources:
http://www.ilga.gov/legislation/ilcs/ilcs5.asp?ActID=2113&ChapterID=60
https://www.isba.org/ibj/2015/04/estateplannersadoptandadaptnewhcpoa

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.


Sources:
https://www.isba.org/public/guide/livingtrust

Treatment of Same-Sex Spouses and Civil Union Partners Under Illinois Probate Law

Web Admin - Wednesday, November 21, 2018
Rolling Meadows same sex couple estate planning lawyerThe state of Illinois has recognized civil unions of same-sex couples since 2011 and same-sex marriage since 2014. But it was not until 2015, when the U.S. Supreme Court issued its ruling in the case of Obergefell v. Hodges, that all states were required to allow and recognize same-sex marriages. These changes over the past decade have had a major impact on estate planning for same-sex couples.

Differences Between Illinois’ Civil Union Act and Marriage Fairness Act


The 2011 Illinois Religious Freedom Protection and Civil Union Act (750 ILCS 75) declares that a party to a civil union “is entitled to the same legal obligations, responsibilities, protections, and benefits” that the law of Illinois affords to spouses. This law did not, however, mention children of civil union partners or other family members.

The 2014 Religious Freedom and Marriage Fairness Act (750 ILCS 80) more forcefully declares that its purpose is to provide same-sex and different-sex couples and their children “equal access to the status, benefits, protections, rights, and responsibilities of civil marriage.” It goes on to say that parties to a marriage and their children “shall have all the same benefits, protections, and responsibilities under law.”   

Conversion of a Civil Union to a Marriage in Illinois


Civil unions were not automatically converted to marriages when the 2014 law was passed. Rather, the Civil Union Act was modified in 2014 to allow the voluntary conversion of a civil union to a marriage at no cost. Through May 2015, a couple could have their civil union redesignated as a marriage just by applying to a county clerk. The effective date of the marriage would be the same as the effective date of the earlier civil union. 

As of June 2015, parties to a preexisting civil union must apply for a marriage certificate and have the marriage solemnized and registered as a marriage. The effective date of that marriage would be the date the marriage was solemnized.

Impact of a Civil Union vs. Marriage on Estate Planning


Spousal inheritance rights are the same in Illinois, whether you are legally in a same-sex civil union, same-sex marriage, or different-sex marriage. Still, if you entered into a civil union, you may want to convert that to a marriage, just to ensure that your relationship is recognized as a legal marriage nationwide and internationally. For example, when partners are citizens of different countries, an actual marriage certificate will generally be needed in order for the spousal relationship to be recognized for immigration purposes. In addition, the same-sex marriage law specifically references “children” and “family” of the couple.

Also, if you entered into a civil union at some point, and the relationship broke up, you should be sure that the civil union was legally dissolved; the process is the same as for the dissolution of a marriage in Illinois. If the civil union was not legally dissolved, or converted to a marriage followed by a divorce, one partner could still claim the right to inherit from the other.

Inheritance and Related Rights of Same-Sex Married Couples Recognized Nationally


Same-sex couples gained numerous inheritance-related benefits as a result of nationwide legalization of same-sex marriage, such as:

- The couple no longer has to worry about moving from a state where same-sex marriage was recognized to a state where it was not.

- If one spouse dies without a written will or trust, the other will now automatically inherit under the laws of their state of residence.

- When one spouse dies, the other can claim the marital deduction for federal gift and estate tax purposes.

- When one spouse dies, leaving the other as beneficiary of a qualified retirement account, the surviving spouse can roll over those assets into their personal retirement account, allowing for optimal asset protection and income tax planning. 

- As a living individual in 2018, you can make inter vivos gifts of up to $15,000 per person per year with no tax implications. However, you can gift as much as you want to your spouse. 

- Spouses can make medical decisions for one another without requiring a power of attorney for health care.

Consult a Palatine Same-Sex Marriage Estate Planning Lawyer


Whether you are married to a same-sex or different-sex spouse, particularly if you have children, you should really have an estate plan, including basic documents such as advanced healthcare directives and powers of attorney. Talk to an experienced Schaumburg estate planning attorney at Drost, Gilbert, Andrew & Apicella, LLC. We can help you develop a will, trust, and other legal plans that will provide emotional and financial security for you and your family for the long-term. Contact us at 847-934-6000 for a free consultation.

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.


Sources:
http://www.ilga.gov/legislation/ilcs/ilcs3.asp?ActID=3294&ChapterID=59
http://www.ilga.gov/legislation/ilcs/ilcs3.asp?ActID=3525&ChapterID=59

Why Top 15% Income Households Need to Start Estate Planning Now

Web Admin - Wednesday, October 24, 2018
Schaumburg estate planning lawyer wealth protectionYou do not have to be Jeff Bezos or Elon Musk to need an estate plan. You do not even need to be earning $1.4 million a year, which is the average annual income of the top 1% of Illinois households. However, if you are fortunate enough to be in the top 15%, you will likely amass enough assets to need an estate plan. For perspective, a 2017 household income over $140,000 per year puts you in the top 15% of U.S. households; over $170K puts you in the top 10%, over $225K in the top 5%, and over $431K in the top 1%. If you fall into these ranges, here are three reasons why you should start an estate plan: 

1. You may think it is too early to be worrying about an estate plan. It is not. 


If you belong to the Baby Boomer generation, you are now age 54 to 72. Gen Xers are age 39 to 53. You may be in great health today, but you cannot predict what will happen tomorrow. You do not want to leave your family in chaos, trying to figure out what to do in the event of a sudden illness or death. Peace of mind is a gift you give yourself and them when you make the time to create an estate plan.

2. You may think your estate is not big enough to require “planning.” It may be bigger than you realize.


Have you totaled up your assets lately? Your home, vehicles, whole life insurance, retirement accounts, other investments, and personal property may add up to more than you realize. You may think that you will use up your entire retirement savings during your lifetime, but many people will not. If you have invested wisely, you may be able to live off the earnings and hardly touch the principal. Also, your primary home, vacation home, or other assets (artwork, jewelry, gold coins) may appreciate in value more than you expect. With an estate plan, you can make sure your assets are distributed according to your wishes.

3. You may think that a simple will that divides your estate equally among your children is enough. But have you allowed for the unexpected?


An experienced estate planner will point out the types of unexpected events that can occur and the important contingencies that you should cover in your plan, such as: 

- What if one of your heirs becomes disabled or cannot be trusted with money due to an addiction? You may want to place your money in a trust with scheduled distributions, with a trustee who has the authority to distribute more or less money if circumstances warrant.

- What if someone does not want the asset you want to give them? For example, you may want to make sure your lake cottage stays in the family, with each child owning an equal share. But what if one of them moves far away or cannot afford the maintenance costs? Also, when it passes to the next generation, what happens if one child has three offspring and another has just one? Is it fair for one grandchild to have a 50% say in future decisions while the other three grandchildren split the remaining 50%? An experienced estate attorney will anticipate and know how to solve for such problems. 

- What if you outlive your presumed heirs? Do you have siblings or other relatives you would like to provide for?

- What if your final estate is likely to be substantially larger than you think your heirs need? Are there any charitable causes you would like to support, perhaps only if your final estate exceeds a certain amount?

Consult a Kenilworth Estate Planning Lawyer


These are just three of the reasons that an income earner who is in the top 15% should be starting their estate plan now. For more information, contact the experienced Inverness estate planning attorneys at Drost, Gilbert, Andrew & Apicella, LLC. We will help you develop a savvy estate plan that will provide emotional and financial security for you and your family. Contact us at 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.



Sources:
https://dqydj.com/united-states-household-income-brackets-percentiles/
https://money.usnews.com/money/retirement/baby-boomers/articles/2018-07-05/6-common-myths-about-estate-planning
https://www.kiplinger.com/article/retirement/T021-C032-S014-10-surprisingly-common-estate-planning-mistakes.html


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