Estate Planning Basics

Estate Planning Basics.

  • In Illinois, assets titled in an individual’s name must go through probate unless there is no real property in the individual’s estate and the assets total less than $100,000.
  • Probate is the court process that allows assets to be transferred upon one’s death.
  • When probate is necessary, additional fees to the estate are incurred. Certain formalities must be followed.
  • Assets that are held jointly or have a TOD designation are not included in the probate estate.
  • Assets held jointly or that have a beneficiary normally do not pass under the Will or Trust.
  • Establishing a trust can also avoid probate.

Helpful Hint: Wills are amended through Codicils; Trusts thru Amendments.

Power of Attorneys

  • Illinois has statutory power of attorneys for health care and property (financial).
  • A healthcare power of attorney gives your agent authority to make medical decisions on your behalf if you are not able to. Changes to the health care power of attorney were enacted on January 1, 2015.
  • A property power of attorney gives your agent authority to make financial decisions for you if you are not able to.

Helpful Hint: Both power of attorneys should be included in a comprehensive estate plan and reviewed on a regular basis. The laws change, as do family situations. It is important to name someone in these roles who you trust and who is willing and able to serve.

Benefits of Establishing a Living Trust

  • Probate avoidance: Time and money are saved for your loved ones when probate is avoided.
  • Incapacitation provisions: You can name a successor trustee to handle your trust assets if you become incapacitated.
  • More flexibility with distribution of personal property than with a will.
  • Privacy: a will gets filed with he court (becomes public record) upon your death; a trust stays private and does not get filed with the court.
  • You are typically your own trustee during your life, which means you can still do whatever you want with your assets.

Who Needs an Estate Plan?

  • Estate Plans are not just for the “super wealthy”, contrary to popular belief
  • Everyone should establish a plan that includes powers of attorney and either a will or trust.
  • If assets are over $100,000.00 and/or there is real estate, a trust should be considered
  • Beneficiary designations are also part of an estate plan. It’s important to review these regularly.
  • If you have minor children,, you must name guardians in the event you die while they are minors.
  • If any potential beneficiaries of your estate plan are minors (children, grandchildren, nieces/nephew), you should consider setting up restrictions on their inheritance until they are financially capable.

About Zanck, Coen, Wright & Saladn P.C.

The law firms of Zanck, Coen, Wright & Saladin P.C. was formed nearly 40 years ago with one goal in mind: providing residents of McHenry County and surrounding areas with the highest level of legal representation. Over the years, our full-service law firm has expanded acclimated to changes in the law and within the county.

Our areas of focus include: Banking Law, Business Acquisitions & General Business Law, Civil Litigation, Divorce/Family Law, Estate Planning/Probate, Trust Administration, Personal Injury/Accidents, Real Estate Transactions, and Zoning & Development.


Read more articles…

How Often Should I Review My Estate Plan?

What Is An Estate Plan?

Do I Need to Have an Estate Plan?

Estate and Gift Planning Basics

What is Probate?