Four New Year’s Resolution Ideas

Chicago Elder LawThe start of the new year marks a time for resolutions. One of the best ways to make sure 2014 (and beyond) is a good year is to take steps to secure your family’s health and financial security, which is easier than you may think!

1. Get an estate plan. Make 2014 the year to start to protect yourself and your family. Whether it’s a simple will or an asset protection plan, contact one of our firm’s Chicago estate planning lawyers who will help you find the most appropriate plan for you.

2. Take Inventory. If you have aging parents, resolve to learn where they keep their important documents. That way, if there is an emergency you will know where to find important contacts and account information without added stress. Also, check to make sure their documents are up-to-date. If you find a 30 year old will or outdated powers of attorney it’s time to consult with an estate planning attorney.

3. Check In. In our busy lives, it’s hard to make time to check in with our elderly relatives. In the new year when you visit their homes, make sure that not only are their living conditions appropriate, but also that they have the help they need. Maybe getting a part-time caregiver or hiring somebody to clean the house once a month would increase their quality of life.

4. Keep in touch.  Resolve to increase the number of times you call or visit your elderly relatives. By making more frequent visits you will be better able to monitor their well-being.

To learn more about how a Chicago estate planning lawyer can help, contact Peck Ritchey, LLC at (855) 328-5787 for a consultation.

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What Your Chicago Will Attorney Wants You To Know

Estate Planning DocumentIf you don’t have a will drafted, you may now realize why it’s important to have one. Learn more about what a Chicago will attorney wants you to know regarding creating a will that can help protect your family members from fighting and stress.

Chicago Will Attorney Tip #1: Everyone Needs A Will

If you don’t have a lot of assets, you probably think you don’t even need a will. However, this is completely false! Everyone needs a will. Wills can help your relatives know what you want to do with your belongings after you’re gone, even if this just includes your furniture or other household goods. Without it, your family members could spend time arguing amongst themselves instead of pulling together and mourning your loss. Additionally, when you have a legally binding document from a Chicago will attorney that spells out your wishes, your beneficiaries will be able to access your estate more quickly.

Chicago Will Attorney Tip #2: Use A Lawyer

Everyone has seen the commercials for DIY legal services. This is a terrible idea. These documents may not be binding or they might not address your specific situation. Instead, contact a Chicago will attorney and have a lawyer draft the right type of documents for your individual situation. The cost is often negligible and the benefits can save your family members a lot of heartache after you’re gone.

Chicago Will Attorney Tip #3: Understand What Your Executors Do

Wills must have an executor appointed. This is the person who is responsible for making sure your wishes are carried out after you’re gone. Many married couples choose to name each other as executor, but what happens if there’s an accident and both spouses are killed or one is medically unable to act as the executor? These situations are why it is important to have someone named as a substitute executor.

Chicago Will Attorney Tip #4: Don’t Forget To Name A Guardian And Trustee

If you’re relatively young and have children living at home, it’s vital that you name a guardian for them. If you’re married and both spouses die in an accident, the children could be placed into a state run foster home, especially if it takes a while to contact your next of kin. Additionally, if you’re unmarried and living together, it’s important to name someone as guardian. An unmarried father may not automatically receive custody of his own children, especially if an aunt or grandparent contests the guardianship. For this reason, it’s important to appoint guardians.

If you put assets into a trust for younger children, it’s also necessary to appoint a trustee. This doesn’t have to be the same person as the guardian and many people choose to name a trusted attorney or family friend as the trustee. The trustee ensures that assets are managed well when the children are too young to make responsible financial decisions for themselves.

Chicago Will Attorney Tip #5: Let Your Family Members Know Where It Is

Lastly, it’s important that your family members know where your will is. The days surrounding your death can be stressful and chaotic, especially if it was a surprise. If your family members know where your will is, they’ll be able to make sure your wishes are followed.

If you don’t have a will drafted, let a Chicago will attorney from Peck Ritchey, LLC help create one. When wills are done correctly they can reduce a lot of stress and strife after a loved one’s death.

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Kerry Peck Co-Author of New Alzheimer’s Book

AlzheimerAndTheLaw_LRGAfter spending a large portion of his career fighting for the best care and financial strategies for his clients with Alzheimer’s disease, Peck Ritchey, LLC Managing Partner Kerry Peck co-wrote the book Alzheimer’s and the Practice of Law in hopes that people use it as a manual to better understand the legal options that are available before and after a diagnosis.

Alzheimer’s and the Practice of Law is a new book aimed at helping readers better understand the legal implications that an Alzheimer’s diagnosis has over an individual’s future.

Written by Chicago Litigation Lawyer Kerry Peck and Rick Law, Alzheimer’s and the Practice of Law is designed to give attorneys the knowledge needed guide their clients diagnosed with dementia or Alzheimer’s disease.  The book addresses ethics, health care options, asset protection strategies, and other long term care planning.

Additional contributors to this book include Brandon Peck and Diana Law. The book’s Forward was written by acclaimed author Scott Turow.

This book will answer a variety of questions including:

  • How do we get health care for the patient?
  • What are the ethics of working with clients with Alzheimer’s?
  • What options are available for health care?
  • How are these options going to affect the patient and the family/spouse?
  • What is the long-term outlook for everyone?
  • How can we protect the family assets?

For more information about Alzheimer’s and the Practice of Law visit http://apps.americanbar.org/abastore/index.cfm?pid=1620569&section=main&fm=Product.AddToCart

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Peck Ritchey’s Estate Lawyers In Chicago Help Fiduciary Agents Perform Their Legal Duties

Estate Planning DocumentManaging the estate of a deceased friend or loved one can be challenging. There are legal requirements to meet and ramifications for nearly every decision you make. To make it more difficult, you’ll often have to make these decisions while still mourning the loss of your loved one. That’s why it’s important to have Peck Ritchey estate lawyers in Chicago helping you.

Fiduciary Responsibilities

The job of fiduciary or executor often falls to the most trustworthy and honest person the decedent knew. While an honor, it comes with a great deal of responsibility that some people are unprepared to handle. Suddenly you are in charge of making sure the person’s final wishes are honored, will is filed and honored, debts and taxes are paid, obligations are taken care of and every day matters of living are attended to. Oh, and did we mention, you might have to do this under the scrutiny of heirs who don’t think you’re the best person for the job?

It’s for reasons like this that so many executors seek the advice, counsel and guidance of Peck Ritchey estate lawyers. Our estate lawyers in Chicago guide hundreds of executors through the probate process, help them manage wills and trusts and ensure they are performing their duties in compliance with the law every year.

How Peck Ritchey Estate Lawyers In Chicago Can Help

Anyone can be named the executor of an estate. You don’t need to have any special legal knowledge or be particularly good with finances. What you do need is to operate within the confines of the law. Sometimes, people get nervous just thinking about being responsible for someone else’s assets. Others get nervous when they realize there are legal requirements to be met and they don’t know what they are. Still others are too distraught over the loss to feel confident in their ability to make the best decisions.

Peck Ritchey estate lawyers can guide and support you through this maze. Our experience and expertise extends to all aspects of estate planning and administration. We can:

  • Guide you through the probate process.
  • Appear by your side in court, if need be.
  • Assist in the transfer of assets.
  • Help resolve claims.
  • Ensure the estate plan gets implemented as intended.
  • Prepare and file state and federal inheritance tax returns.
  • Help you find and identify heirs and manage the estate if there is no will.
  • Arrange for the disposition of assets.
  • Help you identify individuals, agencies and services that should be notified of the decedent’s passing.
  • Keep detailed records of all decisions, actions and transactions made related to the estate.

We will also make sure you’re meeting all of your legal obligations. It is vitally important that you follow the rules of law when fulfilling your fiduciary duties. If you fail to do so, you can open yourself up to personal liability and may find yourself getting sued by heirs or fined by the court or government agencies.

You have an important duty to fulfill. Let the Peck Ritchey estate lawyers in Chicago help you accomplish it. Contact us at (855) 328-5787 to learn more about our estate planning and administration services.

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Getting Help From Peck Ritchey In Managing A Guardianship In Chicago Extends Beyond Legal Expertise

litigation lawyers ChicagoAt Peck Ritchey, LLC we are more than just lawyers who help our clients navigate the legal system. We are lawyers who care about our clients. We care about their well-being and the well-being of their family members as they go through some of life’s toughest transitions.

One example of this is setting up a guardianship in Chicago. It’s a very difficult decision to choose to create a guardianship for an aging loved one and we understand that. That’s why we offer emotional, legal and practical support to our clients as they face these decisions.

Yes, we can help you set up a guardianship in Chicago, but we won’t leave you on your own once it has been established.

5 Ways Peck Ritchey Can Help Ease The Transition Of Guardianship In Chicago

There are many issues that arise as we age. One of the most difficult decisions an adult child can make is whether or not to establish a guardianship for their parent(s). Making that decision requires careful consultation with an attorney and other family members, but even after a guardianship has been set up, there are needs to be met. We can help you find the resources you need to navigate the transitions that caring for aging relatives bring.

1. Legal Knowledge. Sometimes, a guardianship isn’t the best solution. We can analyze your situation and give you advice as to whether you should pursue a guardianship or if some other arrangement would work better such as power of attorney, a living will or surrogate decision-making.

2. Estate Planning. Depending on the type of guardianship created, you may find yourself responsible for your parent’s estate. If they do not have an estate plan in place, a Peck Ritchey lawyer can help you create one. This can help ensure there are funds available for long-term care of the parents, to help you meet your tax obligations, or to make plans for nursing home care down the road.

3. Senior and Social Services. We are very active in the Chicago community and have developed strong working relationships with the many senior and social service agencies in the city. Guardians may find themselves under a lot of stress and pressure with their added responsibilities and could benefit from counseling or joining a support network of people going through the same challenges. We can help put you in touch with agencies that can make the transition to guardianship in Chicago easier on you and on your loved ones.

4. Social Security and Medicaid. It’s not unusual for adult children to have questions about how Social Security and Medicare or Medicaid work once their parent is under a guardianship. If you have trouble obtaining access to benefits due to your parent(s), contact us. We can look into the situation and help you gain access to the benefits you are due.

5. Outside Care. Guardians still have their own lives to live. If you need help finding in-home care, suitable nursing homes, or end-of-life or hospice care for your loved one, we can recommend reputable agencies and review any documents or papers you are required to sign. If you suspect your loved one has been a victim of elder abuse, contact us immediately. We can investigate the situation and ensure actions are taken to protect your loved one right away.

For more information about guardianship in Chicago or any of our elder law services, contact us at 855-328-5787.

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Alzheimer’s Disease

Alzheimer’s disease is a progressive disease. The rate of decline varies person to person. Therefore, you must consider the healthcare and financial decisions you must make now – as well as in the future to ensure YOUR wishes are met.

Advanced planning should begin at diagnosis so you can participate as much as possible and help limit family members from making important decisions on your behalf during a crisis period.

Why do you need an Attorney?

To settle legal matters such as:

  • Identifying and completing legal documents (wills, trusts, deeds).
  • Interpret state laws.
  • Making plans for medical and treatment decisions.

    • How does the patient want their wishes carried out?
  • Making plans for finances and property.

    • How to preserve assets while caring for a loved one.
    • Am I eligible for government aid?
  • Naming another person to make decisions on your behalf when you longer can.

To learn more about Alzheimer’s disease and how you can help, visit our website.

For legal representation related to this issue, contact Peck Ritchey directly at 312-201-0900.

 

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Living Will or Health Care Power of Attorney?

First of all, a living will is not a will.

A living will and power of attorney for health care are both types of advanced directives: a legal declaration of how you want future medical decisions to be made should you be unable to make that decision yourself. Both documents, in essence, force caregivers to give you the specific treatment you want even when you cannot communicate that choice. Advanced Directives are drafted earlier in life, when you can fully understand the choices you are making (capable) and jump into effect when you no longer can understand those choices (incapable).

A health care power of attorney authorizes the trustworthy person of your choice to make medical decisions for you, based on the preferences you stated in the power of attorney. People often choose a family member, close friend or their attorney to act on their behalf.

A living will entrusts the medical preferences you dictated within the document to be followed by a doctor directly rather than electing a family member or friend to speak on your behalf. Also, while a power of attorney can go into effect at anytime you are incapacitated (ex: having surgery) a living will is ONLY for using, withholding or withdrawing life-sustaining treatment (to pull the plug or not to pull the plug). The living will becomes effective legally when you are determined to be permanently unconscious or brain damaged by a certified physician.

The power of attorney document is more flexible as it is not confined to terminal conditions, like the living will. Also, the power of attorney can either direct the agent to follow their specific instructions or to use their own best judgment based on the circumstances. While a living will only addresses issues relating to the postponement of your death, the health care power of attorney can address all types of issues, including life-sustaining treatments.

By making these end-of-life decisions ahead of time, you save your family the difficulty, confusion and burden of making life and death decisions during an already emotionally tumultuous time.

For more information, check out the Chicago Tribune article, "Help with End of Life Plans" I am quoted in: http://tinyurl.com/yzbmpfn

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