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Enjoy the Season of Giving Without Tax Implications

Web Admin - Monday, December 17, 2018
Schaumburg gift tax attorneyYou do not have to wait until you die to give a loved one enough money to pursue a big dream, such as starting a business or advancing their education. You can give that gift today without paying any extra federal taxes as long as you follow a few simple rules and have a sound estate plan. During the holiday season, it is important to understand how federal gift tax affects the high-value gifts given.

Why the Gift Tax Exists 


Gift taxes exist because of the federal estate tax. If your estate is large enough that federal estate taxes will be owed upon your death, the IRS wants to make sure it collects those taxes one way or another. The gift tax ensures that people cannot avoid the federal estate tax simply by giving away their assets prior to death.

Who Has to Pay Federal Gift Taxes? 


Gifts are always tax-free to the recipient. Federal gift tax rules only apply to the giver and only come into play if you exceed the annual gift limits. 

What Are the 2018 and 2019 Gift Limits?


The annual gift limit is $15,000 per individual recipient per calendar year for 2018 and 2019. You can give that amount to as many individuals as you wish without being required to pay gift tax. It does not matter if the individual is related to you or not.

In other words, a gift of $15,000 or less that is given to one person will not have any gift tax or estate tax implications. Separately, your spouse may also give $15,000 to anyone they want. 

Non-cash gifts are valued at their current fair market value. For example, if you originally paid $5,000 for a painting or 100 shares of stock, and the item is worth $15,000 at the time you transfer the gift, the IRS considers the value of the gift to be $15,000.

What Happens if I Exceed the Annual Gift Limits?


If the total value of your gifts to any one individual in one calendar year exceeds the annual limit, you must file a federal gift tax return using IRS Form 709. This is separate from your federal income tax return but is due at the same time. 

A separate Form 709 must be filed by each individual who gives an over-the-limit gift; spouses cannot file one joint Form 709 the way they file a joint income tax return.

However, just because you have to file a federal gift tax return does not mean you will actually have to pay any taxes at that time. You can choose to apply over-the-limit gift amounts to your federal estate tax exclusion. In essence, rather than paying the gift tax now, you defer the taxes until your death when the final estate tax return is filed.

If you opt to pay gift taxes at the time you file a gift tax return, the tax rate starts at 18% and goes as high as 40%. These rates are substantially lower than current estate tax rates, but again, the laws can change dramatically from year to year. 

Ultimately, most people will not owe any federal estate taxes upon their death, so it is often preferable to avoid paying gift taxes early.

What Happens at Death When My Estate is Settled?


A federal estate tax return must be filed only if the fair market value of your total assets at the time of your death plus the sum of all pre-death taxable gifts exceeds the IRS “basic exclusion” amount. The IRS basic exclusion amounts are $11.18 million for 2018 and $11.4 million for 2019. 

Of course, it is possible that the estate tax threshold could be reduced in future years. For example, if you had died in 2017, the estate tax exclusion was just $5.49 million. 

These complexities are a good reason to work with a highly skilled tax and estate planning attorney to develop a comprehensive estate plan.

Please note that the information in this article applies only to federal tax law. Consult your financial and legal advisors regarding applicable Illinois estate and gift tax laws.

Consult a Schaumburg Tax and Estate Planning Lawyer


Many people find great pleasure in giving generous gifts to their family members sooner rather than later. However, to avoid creating an unnecessary tax burden, talk to a knowledgeable Arlington Heights gift tax and estate plans attorney at Drost, Gilbert, Andrew & Apicella, LLC. Call 847-934-6000 to schedule an appointment; there is no charge for an 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:
https://www.irs.gov/businesses/small-businesses-self-employed/whats-new-estate-and-gift-tax
https://www.thebalance.com/what-gifts-are-subject-to-the-gift-tax-3505680
https://www.hrblock.com/tax-center/income/other-income/do-i-have-to-pay-taxes-on-a-gift/

Using a Special Needs Trust to Assist a Disabled Family Member

Web Admin - Friday, August 10, 2018
Inverness estate planning trust attorneyPeople who have saved money or accumulated assets over the course of their lifetime will often want to pass these assets on to their loved ones, either before or after their death. This is especially true when family members have disabilities or other special needs. However, when providing financial assistance to these family members, it is important to make sure that doing so will not make them ineligible for the public benefits they need to meet their needs. An experienced estate planning attorney can help you protect your loved ones’ interests by establishing a special needs trust.

Benefits of a Special Needs Trust

People with mental or physical disabilities are usually able to receive government benefits such as Supplemental Security Income (SSI) or Medicaid. However, eligibility for these benefits is based on the income earned and assets owned by the recipient; in most cases, a recipient must own no more than $2,000 in assets, and there are also limits on the amount of income they can earn. This means that if a well-meaning family member gives them money or other assets, either through a direct gift or an inheritance, it may make them ineligible for the benefits they need. 

To avoid jeopardizing a disabled person’s ability to receive public benefits, their family members can use a special needs trust (sometimes called a supplemental needs trust). This is a type of irrevocable trust in which the assets will be placed under the control of a trustee, which could be another family member or a financial institution. The trustee will then ensure that the assets are used to provide for the beneficiary’s needs.

There are specific rules that must be followed in special needs trusts. For instance, the trust can only be used to pay for certain expenses related to the beneficiary’s care, such as the costs of medical equipment, caretakers, transportation, or educational expenses. Using funds from a trust to pay for food or housing may make a beneficiary ineligible for public aid. 

Contact a Schaumburg Trust Attorney

Since a disabled person will often need assistance throughout their entire life, it is important to ensure that trusts are set up in a way that will provide them with the resources they need for many years to come. An Arlington Heights estate planning lawyer at Drost, Gilbert, Andrew & Apicella, LLC can help you create a special needs trust that meets your loved one’s needs, and we can help you address any other estate planning needs, ensuring that you can provide for your family both before and after your death. Contact us at 847-934-6000 to arrange a personalized 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/s/special-needs-trust.asp
https://money.usnews.com/money/personal-finance/articles/2015/11/04/how-to-draw-up-a-special-needs-trust-for-a-child-with-disabilities
https://www.cnbc.com/2017/10/25/how-to-set-up-a-special-needs-trust.html

Advance Directives, Living Wills, and Healthcare Power of Attorney

Web Admin - Thursday, February 08, 2018
Schaumburg estate planning lawyer advance directivesProper estate planning is essential for every family, and the decisions made during this process will allow you to protect your personal property and financial assets and pass them on to your heirs after your death. But in addition to considering what will happen after you die, it is also a good idea to plan for how medical decisions will be handled for you if you ever become unable to make these decisions for yourself. The documents detailing your instructions in these matters are known as advance directives, and the two most common directives are living wills and healthcare power of attorney.

Living Wills


With a living will, you can inform a doctor or other healthcare provider that you do not want them to use medical procedures which will delay your death if you are diagnosed with a terminal illness. A living will only goes into effect if you have an “incurable and irreversible condition [in which] death is imminent” and you are unable to communicate your preferences to your doctor.

Illinois law provides a standard form for living wills, but you may also create your own customized document, including specific instructions about certain situations or medical procedures you do not want your doctor to perform.

Healthcare Power of Attorney

A healthcare power of attorney document allows you to name someone who is authorized to make decisions for you if you cannot make decisions for yourself. You can give this person, known as your agent, broad authority to make decisions, or you can include specific instructions about what types of decisions they can make, what treatments you do and do not want to receive, whether you would like to donate your organs after your death, and how your remains should be disposed of.

Healthcare power of attorney will go into effect as soon as the document is signed, and your agent will continue to have authority to make decisions until your death, unless you include a time limit. If you have both a living will and healthcare power of attorney, decisions about death-delaying treatments will be made by your agent, unless they are unavailable, in which case your doctors will follow the instructions in your living will.

Contact a Schaumburg Estate Planning Lawyer


In addition to healthcare power of attorney and a living will, you may want to consider other advance directives: a mental health treatment preference declaration which will describe what treatments for mental illness you want to receive if you cannot make decisions for yourself, or a do not resuscitate (DNR) order which states that you do not want to be revived if you stop breathing or your heart stops beating.

If you want to know more about how to create the advance directives that will ensure your wishes are carried out correctly if you are incapacitated, the skilled attorneys at Drost, Gilbert, Andrew & Apicella, LLC can answer your questions and work with you to create the documents you need. Contact our Barrington estate planning attorneys at 847-934-6000 to schedule a personalized 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.dph.illinois.gov/topics-services/health-care-regulation/nursing-homes/advance-directives
http://www.ilga.gov/legislation/ilcs/ilcs3.asp?ActID=2110&ChapterID=60

2016 Changes to the Illinois Power of Attorney Act

Web Admin - Monday, March 14, 2016

Illinois Power of Attorney Act, Illinois Estate Planning Attorneys The Illinois Power of Attorney Act saw a handful of small, but important changes as of January 1, 2016. These changes help make the health care power of attorney short form easier to use, and gives principals (i.e., the person who executes the power of attorney) more control over what their agents can have access to during their life and after. If you are interested in preparing and executing a health care power of attorney, you can contact an estate planning lawyer today for professional assistance throughout each step of the process. 

What Changes Have Occurred to the Health Care POA Form?

Several significant changes to the Illinois Power of Attorney Act concerning health care power of attorneys include:

- The Option to Allow an Agent Access to the Principal’s Medical Records. The health care power of attorney short form has been updated and now includes a checkbox option that indicates that an agent is authorized, as of the date of the execution of the form, to have access to the medical records of the principal. Access to the principal’s medical records allows the agent to make well informed decisions about the principal’s health care.

- Decisional Capacity Has Been Defined. The changes to the Act and the power of attorney short form adopts the definition of “decisional capacity” from the Illinois Health Care Surrogate Act. “Decisional capacity” is the ability to understand and appreciate the nature and consequences of a decision that is being made concerning medical treatment or choosing to forego life-sustaining care and having the ability to reach and communicate an informed decision on the matter as determined by the attending physician. The change to the Illinois Power of Attorney Act places the attending physician into a position to make judgement calls regarding whether a principal has decisional capacity. 

- The Agent Can Pursue Applications for Government Benefits After the Death of the Principal. When a health care agent files for government benefits on behalf of the principal, but the principal dies and no administrator or executor was appointed for the principal’s estate, under the changes to the Illinois Power of Attorney Act, the health care agent can continue to pursue those government benefit applications. As a general rule, a power of attorney terminates with the death of the principal. However, the changes in the Power of Attorney Act now allow for this government benefits application exception. 

- Who Can Be a Witness for a Health Care Power of Attorney Has Been Updated. When a principal signs a power of attorney, another individual must also sign the power of attorney as a witness to the principal’s signature. The Illinois Power of Attorney Act is very specific as to which licensed professionals are not permitted to be a witness, which excludes the principal’s attending physician, physician assistant, advanced practice nurse, podiatric physician, dentist, optometrist, or mental health service provider. “Mental health service provider” has been changed to “psychologist,” as of January 1. 

If you would like assistance preparing and executing a health care power of attorney, or have any other estate planning needs, please feel free to contact one of our experienced Illinois estate planning attorneys today. Drost, Gilbert, Andrew & Apicella, LLC serves the communities of Crystal Lake, Palatine, Des Plaines, Inverness, Palatine, Schaumburg Riverwoods, Kenilworth, Buffalo Grove, Barrington, and Arlington Heights. Call 847-934-6000 to speak to a member of our team.

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: 

http://www.ilga.gov/legislation/ilcs/ilcs3.asp?ActID=2111&ChapterID=60


Tax Considerations for 2016

Web Admin - Tuesday, January 26, 2016

tax considerations for 2016, Illinois Estate Planning AttorneyAs we head into 2016, there are various tax issues of which to be aware and are related to estate planning and real estate debt. These issues include an extension of an existing law, as well as new requirements for 2016.   

Consistent Basis Reporting  

Estate tax is a tax levied when a person transfers property upon his or her death. It is calculated by using the fair market value of everything the deceased person owns or has an interest in. The total value is called the “Gross Estate.” Certain deductions may be taken from the Gross Estate to arrive at the person’s “Taxable Estate.” Finally, the value of lifetime taxable gifts is added to the Taxable Estate and the tax is computed. Most estates do not require the filing of an estate tax return. However, for 2016, a filing is required for estates that have combined gross assets and prior taxable gifts that exceed $5,450,000.   

Under §6035 of the Internal Revenue Code (IRC), the executor of an estate who is required to file an estate tax return must provide to anyone who acquires an interest in the property of the decedent’s gross estate a statement that identifies the value of each interest in such property as reported on the estate tax return. This statement must also be filed with the IRS.   

The basis of certain property acquired from a decedent cannot exceed the value of the property as determined for federal estate tax purposes. If the value has not been determined, pursuant to the IRC, the basis ceiling is set at the value of the property as reported on the statement made under §6035. These new requirements are intended to help with ensuring there is consistent basis reporting between estates and beneficiaries receiving property from decedents. The statement required under §6035 is made on Form 8971, which must be filed at the earlier of either 30 days after the estate tax return under §6018 must be filed or 30 days after the estate tax return is actually filed.   

Real Estate Forgiveness   

Ordinarily, gross income includes income realized when a person with debt discharges that indebtedness. However, a provision under the Tax Relief Extension Act has been extended to 2016 by amending IRC §108. This provision allows individuals to exclude from gross income discharges of qualified principal residence debt. Qualified principal residence debt is acquisition debt incurred in connection with a taxpayer’s principal residence. This is typically indebtedness related to the purchase, construction, or substantial improvement of a principal residence where the debt is secured by the residence. It may also include refinancing indebtedness. 

This exclusion was extended because it is believed that people restructuring acquisition debt on their home, or who are losing their home due to foreclosure probably, do not have sufficient cash to pay taxes on the discharged debt in the event it were considered income. Additionally, the extension was considered necessary for individuals who entered into a discharge agreement while the exclusion was allowed, but that had not completed the discharge yet. By extending the exclusion into 2016, those agreements can still enjoy the advantage of exclusion. For more information related to any of these issues, please speak with an experienced Illinois estate planning attorney today. Our firm serves the communities of Inverness, Palatine, Schaumburg, Arlington Heights, Long Grove, Kenilworth, Barrington, South Barrington, Riverwoods, and Mount Prospect.  

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://uscode.house.gov/view.xhtml?req=granuleid:USC-prelim-title26-section6035&num=0&edition=prelim 

https://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/USCODE-2011-title26/html/USCODE-2011-title26-subtitleA-chap1-subchapB-partIII-sec108.htm


VA Benefits and the Transfer of Assets to an Irrevocable Trust

Web Admin - Friday, November 27, 2015

VA benefits and irrevocable trust, Illinois employment lawThe Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) provides our nation’s veterans with important benefits after they have been discharged from service. In order to qualify for those benefits, veterans must meet certain requirements. For some veterans, it may be necessary to transfer assets into an irrevocable trust to lower his or her net worth. 

Qualifying for Pension 

The Veterans Pension benefit is a tax-free, monetary benefit for low-income veterans. In order to qualify, the following requirements must be met: 

1. Veteran must be 65 years of age or older or permanently and totally disabled;

2. He or he must have been discharged under conditions other than dishonorable;

3. He or she must have served, which generally involves a minimum period of active duty service, one day of which was during wartime;

4. Net worth must not be considered too substantial; and

5. Countable family income must be below the yearly limit as set by law. 

Veterans who are concerned about their level of net worth may consider forming an irrevocable trust. By creating an irrevocable trust, net worth can be reduced in order to qualify for the Veterans Pension. The VA does not assess a penalty for transferring assets as long as that transfer occurs prior to filing a claim or notifying the VA of an intent to file a claim. The determination of net worth is subjective—the VA has discretion in determining whether a veteran’s assets are too large to qualify for the Veterans Pension. 

An irrevocable trust can be used to hold assets that are provided by a veteran in order to reduce net worth. Importantly, a veteran claiming benefits (as well as his or her spouse) cannot be an income or principal beneficiary of the trust established in order to obtain VA benefits. This is because the VA requires that the rights to property and income from that property be actually relinquished to be considered a reduction of net worth. 

A second issue relates to whether to form the trust as a grantor trust or a non-grantor trust. The VA compares income reported to it with Supplemental Security Income (SSI) and Internal Revenue Service (IRS) income records through a process called Income Verification Match (IVM). Due to the nature of a grantor trust, there may be a discrepancy between income reported to the VA and income that appears with IRS filings. 

Under a grantor trust, all items within the trust are taxed to the grantor on his or her personal income tax return. Ordinarily, the grantor is the person who funds the trust, which, in this case, is the veteran claiming benefits. The VA may assume that the tax reported on the veteran’s tax return is based on income of the veteran, which may lead to lower (or complete denial of) benefits. Therefore, a non-grantor trust, in which the trust is responsible for any tax, is likely more desirable, in an attempt to avoid this potential issue. 

Forming a Trust 

If you would like more information on the formation of a trust, reach out to a skilled Illinois estate planning attorney today. Our firm proudly helps individuals in the communities of Inverness, Schaumburg, Palatine, Arlington Heights, Kenilworth, Long Grove, Riverwoods, Barrington, South Barrington, and Mount Prospect. We look forward to hearing from you. 

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:
http://www.benefits.va.gov/pension/







Importance of Funding Your Living Trust

Web Admin - Friday, September 25, 2015

funding your living trust, Illinois estate planning attorney

The creation of living trusts in order to transfer property to beneficiaries is becoming increasingly popular. One of the major benefits of using a living trust is the avoidance of probate. However, if the maker of the trust (called the grantor) does not actually fund the trust with property or other assets, the grantor’s estate will likely have to go through probate. 

Living Trusts 

A revocable living trust is a form of estate planning that allows a grantor to determine who gets his or her property upon their death. A trust that is revocable can be altered, changed, or revoked during the life of the grantor. Upon the grantor’s death, the trust becomes irrevocable. After the trust becomes irrevocable, it cannot be changed and the trustee must follow the distribution plan made by the grantor. Alternatively, an irrevocable living trust is one that cannot be revoked once it is finalized. Both of these forms of trusts are called “living” trusts because they are formed during the life of the grantor. 

Living trusts provide the benefit of the avoidance of probate, which is a court process in which a determination is made as to how property is distributed upon the death of an individual. Probate, which is governed under Illinois law by the Probate Act of 1975, is often expensive and time-consuming. Additionally, it often means that property is not divided in accordance with how the deceased individual would have desired. 

In order to avoid probate, the grantor must correctly form the trust and fund the trust. A trust is formed through the creation of a written trust document that is signed by the creator of the trust and a notary public. The trust document must include a list of the property that is covered by the trust, name a trustee, and name the beneficiaries of the property included in the trust. 

The grantor must transfer the property that is to be covered by the trust into the trust. For most property, a trust is funded simply by including a list of covered property in the trust document. However, real estate must be retitled in the name of the trust in order to be correctly transferred. A trust that has not had assets properly transferred to it is called an unfunded living trust. 

Unfortunately, it is not uncommon for grantors to fail to fund their trust. This may occur when a grantor plans to get around to it in the future but never actually does it. Alternatively, a grantor may incorrectly believe that the creation of the trust document was sufficient. For example, in the case of real estate, the creation of the trust document is not enough due to the retitling rule. If a trust is not properly funded, the goals of the estate plan will not be achieved and the estate will have to go through probate. 

Help with Estate Planning 

Planning for what will happen to your property and assets is important for you and your loved ones. If you would like more information or help in forming a living trust, contact an experienced Illinois estate planning attorney today. Our firm proudly serves the communities of Inverness, Palatine, Schaumburg, Arlington Heights, Long Grove, Kenilworth, Riverwoods, Barrington, South Barrington, and Mount Prospect.

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:

http://www.ilga.gov/legislation/ilcs/ilcs5.asp?ActID=2104&ChapterID=60


Homestead Rights in Illinois

Web Admin - Thursday, October 23, 2014

homestead rights in Illinois, Palatine estate planning lawyerWhile there are many well known government programs and policies designed to provide relief during difficult economic times, there are other laws people can take advantage of that are less commonly talked about. One of these laws is known as “homestead rights.” Homestead rights are a protection provided by Illinois law that provide certain immunities from debt collection efforts by creditors. However, these immunities are not absolute, so it is important for people exercising their homestead rights to understand the exact limitations of those rights.

What Homestead Rights Are

Homestead rights are a statutory protection against creditors designed to help people avoid becoming homeless because of changing economic circumstances. The rights allow the debtor to exempt $15,000 worth of real estate from the collection efforts of creditors or their agents. Additionally, if a married couple owns the home, then they can pool their homestead rights together to protect the same house. This gives them an exemption of $30,000. This exemption also survives the death or desertion of a spouse. The exemption can also be passed down to the children of the married couple, at least until the youngest child turns 18.

Illinois' homestead laws are also slightly different than the laws in some other states. Many states choose to restrict the amount of acreage that a person can use the homestead exemption on in addition to capping the total value of the property. Illinois has no such acreage cap. This means that the size of the property is irrelevant to the homestead rights, and that it is purely an issue of how much the land is worth.

What Homestead Rights Do Not Protect

Notably, homestead rights do not provide absolute protection against every type of creditor. For instance, the state legislature wrote an exception into the protection for the purposes of state taxes, so if the creditor is the state of Illinois then the exemption does not apply. Similarly, homestead rights are created by state law, which federal law can supersede, so they provide no protection against the federal government's collecting taxes either. The rights also do not function in many circumstances where the money owed is related to the property itself. A person who uses the house as collateral for a mortgage does not get protection if their home is being foreclosed. Additionally, if the person owes money to contractors for doing work on the home, then the homestead rights do not apply to those debts. Further, the homestead rights can be signed away in writing, which would also remove their protection.

If you have questions about your homestead rights or some other property interest, talk to an experienced Palatine, Illinois estate planning attorney today. Our firm helps clients in many northwest suburban towns including Barrington, Long Grove, and Arlington Heights.

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.

The Duties and Responsibilities Associated with a Power of Attorney

Web Admin - Thursday, October 16, 2014

power of attorney rights and responsibilitiesIllness, injury, or age can often render a person unable to take proper care of their finances and their property. As a solution to this issue, Illinois law allows people to set up a power of attorney for property. This is a legal document that lets a person, the principal, designate a trusted agent to handle the principal's property with the principal's best interests in mind. This document gives the agent a variety of legal powers over the principal's money and property, but it also comes with legal duties that the principal must fulfill. Agents need to be aware of both of these things to properly complete their jobs without bringing liability onto themselves.

The Powers Granted

The powers granted to an agent under a power of attorney vary depending on the principal's wishes, but in 2011 Illinois created a general form with 15 default powers that a principal can bestow upon an agent. These powers include:

-The authority to buy or sell real estate on behalf of the principal;

-The authority to deal with banks and safe deposit boxes for the principal;

-The authority to represent the principal in insurance transactions; and

-The authority to buy and sell stocks and bonds for the principal.

The form also includes extra sections to place limitations on these powers or to add extras. For instance, the principal can allow the agent to buy and sell stocks and bonds, but also forbid them from selling a particular stock. Similarly, the power to give gifts on the principal's behalf is not included in the default form, but a principal could add it if they so chose.

The Duties of the Agent

Importantly, by taking on these powers, the agent enters into a “fiduciary” relationship with the principal, meaning that they have a duty to act in the principal's best interests. In addition to that general duty, the law also imposes other, more specific duties on the agent. For instance, the agent is required to act in accordance with any estate plans that the principal has put in place to the extent possible. Agents also have a duty to keep good financial records of any “receipts, disbursements, and significant actions conducted for the principal.” The law also forbids agents from taking certain actions. These forbidden actions include commingling the principal's funds with their own, taking loans from the principal, and exceeding the authority granted by the power of attorney.

Powers of attorney are complex legal documents, and managing them incorrectly can open the agent up to legal liability. If you are considering a power of attorney, contact an Arlington Heights estate planning attorney serving the northwest suburbs to better understand your duties as well as other potential estate planning options. We assist clients throughout Inverness, Palatine, Schaumburg, Long Grove, Kenilworth, Riverwoods, and the rest of the Chicagoland area.

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.

Duties of Trustees to Beneficiaries

Web Admin - Wednesday, July 30, 2014

long grove wills and trusts lawyerOne common legal instrument that people use to plan their estates is a trust. A trust is a legal entity involving at least three roles: a settlor, a trustee, and a beneficiary. The idea of the trust is that each of these three roles work together. The settlor creates the rules of the trust and provides it with property, and they designate the beneficiary. The beneficiary, like the name suggests, is the person for whom the trust is managed. They derive the benefit of any income or other gains from the trust.

However, between the settlor and the beneficiary lies the trustee. The trustee manages the assets of the trust and uses them in the best interests of the beneficiary as directed by the rules of the trust that the settlor created. This means that the trustee has a variety of duties that they need to fulfill. These trustee duties can be thought of as either substantive or procedural duties. This is not an official classification, and the lines can blur, but it is at least a helpful way to catalog the duties.

Substantive Duties

Substantive duties are those that require the trustee to behave in a certain way. The central example is the duty to administer the trust by the rules the settlor laid out. The trust document will contain a variety of provisions, and it is the trustee's duty to follow them. Another example of these substantive duties is the duty of skill and care. This means that the trustee must manage the trust's assets with reasonable skill and caution. Similarly, Illinois law also imposes a “prudent investor” duty on trustees.

This means that the trustee has the duty to act as a prudent investor of the trust's assets including things like developing a diversified portfolio and actively managing investments as necessary. Trustees working with multiple beneficiaries also have a further duty: that of loyalty and impartiality. The trustee may not favor one beneficiary over the other unless the trust instrument provides some reason for it.

Procedural and Ministerial Duties

Trustees also owe beneficiaries a variety of more procedural duties, which involve the proper formalities of managing the trust. For instance, the law governing trusts in Illinois requires trustees to give annual accountings of the trust's receipts, disbursements, and an inventory of the estate. Trustees also often have duties to provide notice of certain actions such as changes in the trusteeship. This may also include a requirement that the trustee provide the beneficiaries with a copy of the trust instrument for their records.

These are just some of the many duties that trustees owe the beneficiaries of their trust. If you would like more information on the legal ramifications of managing a trust, contact an experienced Illinois estate planning attorney today. Our firm advises clients in many northwest suburban towns like Long Grove, Kenilworth, and South Barrington.

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.


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