How Chicago Estate Planning Lawyers Help Families Young and Old

Chicago Law Firm As one’s family changes over the years, there are many situations for which advanced estate planning can help during an emergency. Whether you are new parents looking for an Illinois will and guardianship attorney for your children or learned of an Alzheimer’s diagnosis in the family, a Chicago estate planning lawyer can help you to plan appropriately for your specific needs.   

The Chicago estate planning lawyers at Peck Ritchey, LLC help families plan for future health care decisions, end-of-life planning, general estate planning and administration, and guardianship. Many people are often unaware that an estate planning attorney can also assist with planning for a family member’s mental or physical disabilities.  When an individual becomes disabled, a Chicago estate planning firm can set up a special needs trust, guardianship, and a long-term care plan to protect their assets.

Each family has unique needs and situations. The Chicago estate planning lawyers at Peck Ritchey, LLC understand the importance of having a well drafted estate plan for asset protection in Illinois. It’s the goal for the Chicago estate planning firm, Peck Ritchey, to help their clients make informed choices about their family’s future. 

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After a Family Member Passes Away, Do You Know What To Do?

Estate PlanningA death in the family is one of the hardest times for people. What makes it even more difficult is when families have to deal with paperwork and legal issues for the deceased person and don’t know where to start.

How a Chicago Probate Attorney Can Help:
If the deceased individual planned ahead and had an estate plan prepared, the task of administering their estate can be relatively straight forward. However, sometimes those left in charge of distributing assets to beneficiaries and closing accounts are not comfortable with their responsibility. Other times, people don’t plan ahead or have an outdated will, and the estate administration becomes more complicated. 

The Chicago probate lawyers at Peck Ritchey, LLC are experienced in helping their clients with the administration of a decedent’s estate as well as other probate matters. What this means is that an attorney can help his client sell property, transfer assets to beneficiaries, and navigate probate court as needed.

If you have any questions about what needs to be done after a death in your family, contact the probate lawyers at Peck Ritchey, LLC for a consultation.

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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 312.201.0900 for a consultation.

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Do You Need Estate Attorneys In Chicago? The Answer Might Surprise You

Estate Planning

If you've never written a will before or gone through the estate planning process, you might not understand just why it's important to have professional help! However, the estate planning attorneys in Chicago at Peck Ritchey, LLC know why it's vital to have professional assistance when you're writing your will.

A professional planned estate isn't just for the very rich or people with a lot of assets. If you're not sure whether you should have help from estate attorneys in Chicago, learn about three common situations that you might not have thought of previously.

Estate Planning Attorneys In Chicago Can Help Even If You Don't Have Any Beneficiaries

If you're a single person with no children or family, it's still important to determine where your assets will go. If you pass away without a will, then your estate could be divided up between distant relatives that you might not have ever even met, much less had a relationship with. It's also possible, in rare cases, that your estate ends up in the state's hands.

Instead, consider using estate planning attorneys in Chicago to help determine where your assets will end up. This is especially important if you have a special charity that's close to your heart or you want to leave your assets to a friend that you're not actually related to.

Don't Wait Until You're Ill Before Contacting Estate Attorneys In Chicago

Many people don't consider calling estate attorneys in Chicago unless they've been diagnosed with a serious illness. The illness often acts as a wake up call that pushes them to take action. However, accidents can happen at any time, which could leave you unable to make a decision about what happens with your estate.

For this reason, don't wait to contact estate attorneys in Chicago to create a plan. Having a plan in place, especially a living will, can help your friends and family members understand your wishes if you're unable to speak for yourself.

Estate Attorneys In Chicago Can Prevent Your Family From Fighting When You're Gone

It's not uncommon for families to avoid talking about death and what happens after a loved one is gone. Although this may seem like the easiest thing to do, it can cause major problems if your family isn't happy with your decisions. Estate attorneys in Chicago can help ensure that your assets are divided as equally as possible, which can eliminate the chance of arguments between your family members. Additionally, these estate attorneys in Chicago will be able to help you spell out your exact wishes for your funeral or other memorial services, which can help alleviate a lot of stress for your family during this difficult time.

Estate attorneys in Chicago can help, even if you don't have any family or you don't think you're ill enough to need help. Additionally, they'll be able to make sure that your family doesn't fight with each other over assets when you're gone.

The estate attorneys in Chicago from Peck Ritchey, LLC can help throughout all steps of the estate planning process. Learn more about the firm by visiting their website at http://www.peckbloom.com/practice-areas.html

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3 Instances When You Need A Fiduciary Litigation Attorney In Chicago

Meeting with an AttorneyNot everyone who has been named as a fiduciary representative for a friend or family member's estate in Chicago needs the counsel of a lawyer. Even fewer require the services of a litigation attorney. But there are a few instances when you need to retain the expertise of a lawyer who is not only skilled in estate planning, wills and trusts, but who is also a litigation attorney. Here are three situations in which you'll want to contact a litigation attorney in Chicago.

A Litigation Attorney In Chicago Is Essential If…

1. There's Conflict Over The Will.  The biggest reason for litigation involving a will or estate comes from disgruntled heirs. Sometimes there is no will to speak of. Other times there is a will but the heirs aren't happy with it. Still other times, the heirs have a problem with the executor of the will. Any one of the instances can result in the fiduciary agent, or executor, becoming involved in a lawsuit.

If you think the heirs are going to be unhappy with you or the provisions of the will, you will want to consult an attorney right away. Whether or not it leads to litigation may need to be seen, but by speaking with an attorney at the soonest possible moment, you can position and protect yourself from being blindsided by a lawsuit.

2. You Goofed. Sometimes lawsuits are filed when the fiduciary agent messes up. As fiduciary you have certain responsibilities to the estate and the court. If you neglect these duties or don't perform them correctly, you open yourself up to personal liability and may find yourself on the defending end of a lawsuit. If you know you've made a mistake contact a litigation attorney at Peck Ritchey, LLC immediately. It's possible the mistake can be easily rectified without a lawsuit being filed. We can help get you back on track and managing your duties properly.

If you're unsure of how to fulfill your duties, contact us. We can advise and guide you through the process to ensure you are acting within the confines of the law and performing your duties as intended.

3. You've Already Been Named In A Lawsuit. If you've already been named in a lawsuit you need to find a litigation attorney as soon as possible. The attorney will work to protect your rights and interests and help you get through the lawsuit with as little damage as possible. At Peck Ritchey we try to minimize litigation at all costs, but if attempts at negotiating a settlement fail, we are prepared to vigorously defend you in a court of law.

At Peck Ritchey, LLC we represent families and individuals who are involved in the litigation of contested wills, trusts, and guardianships. Not only do we represent fiduciaries, we can also advise them and help them fulfill their responsibilities. Peck Ritchey also administers estates, acting as the fiduciary or executor of an estate. To learn more about our fiduciary or estate planning services or to speak with a litigation attorney in Chicago, contact us at 855-328-5787 or visit us at: www.peckbloom.com.

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Mistakes Estate Lawyers In Chicago Don’t Want You To Make

estate-planning-peck-bloomIf you're beginning the estate planning process, you know how important it can be. However, understanding the importance just isn't enough — you also need to make sure that you're avoiding these common problems. Before you meet with an attorney, heed the advice of estate lawyers in Chicago and learn how to avoid these common mistakes.

Choosing The Wrong Executor

Choosing the executor of your will is a vital step. This person will be responsible for a number of major decisions, including whether your house should be sold and filing your final federal and state tax returns. The executor will make sure that the wishes of the will are enacted. He or she will make sure that pets and minor children are taken care of according to the will and that assets are distributed in accordance with your wishes. He or she is typically a family member, but it's possible to name estate lawyers in Chicago or even a certified public accountant as the executor.

Before naming someone as an executor, estate lawyers in Chicago recommend that you ask permission, especially if you're naming a friend or family member. Acting as an executor can be a major undertaking so it's important that the person knows what they're getting into before they volunteer for the job.

Not Including A No Conflict Clause And Not Treating Beneficiaries Equally

Another mistake that estate lawyers in Chicago want you to avoid making is not adding a no conflict clause in to the will. A no conflict clause will help eliminate fighting among family members and beneficiaries. It basically states that anyone who contests the contents of the will receives nothing. It's an easy way to ensure that everyone gets along throughout the entire process.

Also, treating everyone equally will help ensure that beneficiaries don't fight among themselves. If you have multiple children, ensure that everyone receives an equal portion of your assets. While it might seem like a good idea to give wealthier relatives less than relatives who aren't as financially stable, this can create negative feelings and strife between family members.

Not Updating The Beneficiaries In Your Will

Estate lawyers in Chicago also want you to make sure that your beneficiaries are updated regularly in your will. If someone named in your will has recently died, it could cause problems if the document isn't updated. It's a good idea to take a look at your legal documents at least once a year to make sure the information is accurate and go to your estate lawyers in Chicago for updates if it's not.

#1 Mistake Estate Lawyers In Chicago Want You To Avoid: Not Making A Plan At All

The top mistake that estate lawyers in Chicago want you to avoid is neglecting to make a plan at all! People who don't plan for what happens to their assets after their death are setting their family members up for a nightmare of paperwork and potential problems. They could also lose a large percentage of their assets to taxes and attorneys' fees. Instead of leaving your loved ones with a mess, make sure that the details are taken care of well in advance.

Avoiding these common mistakes can really help your loved ones through the difficult time after you've passed. If you haven't planned for the future, contact top estate lawyers in Chicago at Peck Ritchey. We'll be able to ensure your family members are taken care of, even after you can't.

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Estate Planning Checklist: Vital Parts Of Your Estate Plan

Estate Planning DocumentEstate planning is important — estate attorneys in Chicago will tell you that. However, many people don't actually realize why it can be so important. Before you meet with Peck Ritchey's estate attorneys in Chicago, take some time to get to know about the different aspects of a standard estate plan. Each part may not apply to your situation, but some of the most common components of any estate plan are trusts for minor children, a will and a living will.

Estate Attorneys In Chicago Can Help You With A Trust

While many people think that a trust fund is something reserved for the very wealthy, the truth is that anyone with children can benefit from establishing a trust. Minor children are too young to be the direct beneficiaries of a life insurance policy or a retirement account. Instead, parents can place their money into a trust so that the money is held until the child reaches a certain age. To enable access to the funds, a trustee will be appointed with the authority to use the money for the child. Make sure that you have faith in your trustee since he or she will be responsible for keeping the money safe until the child becomes of age. While a child does become a legal adult at age 18, many parents are more comfortable with not releasing any trust funds completely until the beneficiary reaches age 21 or 25. This can help ensure that the beneficiary is financially responsible to handle a large sum of money.

Estate Attorneys In Chicago Prepare Living Wills

A living will is a document that's only needed if you're suddenly unable to make medical decisions for yourself. The living will covers very specific situations, such as if you're unable to breathe on your own or if you require a feeding tube to survive. Spelling out your wishes can help your family if they're suddenly faced with making serious medical decisions.

Estate Attorneys In Chicago Prepare Wills

Your will is probably the most important part of your estate plan. This tells your loved ones where you want your belongings and assets to go once you pass on. Neglecting to prepare a will is often a cause of family strife, as family members argue about dividing up the assets during an extremely stressful time.

Other Ways Estate Attorneys In Chicago Can Help

A trust, living will and will aren't the only ways estate attorneys in Chicago can help. Other services include legally protecting assets from Uncle Sam and funeral preplanning. It's not uncommon for estate attorneys in Chicago to also concentrate in elder law, and many of these attorneys can help protect older adults through guardianships or powers of attorney.

If you suspect you need estate attorneys in Chicago, the law offices of Peck Ritchey can help. We work with clients when they're going through some of the most difficult times in their lives and we know how important it is to treat each client as we'd like our own family members treated.

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Experienced Probate Litigation Attorneys In Chicago Know How To Successfully Contest A Will

If someone you love passes away and you discover to your surprise that you've been left out of the will, you may be able to contest it based on any one of several valid issues. Whether you feel it was an honest oversight or you feel that someone used undue pressure against your loved one to change their will before they passed away, meeting with litigation attorneys in Chicago is a good first step. They can review the will and determine how to go about contesting it in court. There are several reasons why probate litigation attorneys might dispute these documents, including improper execution or coercion of the deceased. These attorneys can also represent you as an heir of someone who has passed away without a will, which unfortunately often leads to squabbles between relatives. If you and other potential heirs can't agree, things could turn into a lengthy battle in probate court, giving rise to animosity and damaged relationships. The goal of probate litigation attorneys in Chicago is to quickly resolve the situation with minimal fuss. Some of the most common reasons to contest someone's will include:

Documents That Weren't Prepared Properly

If the will wasn't prepared in accordance with Illinois state inheritance laws, it may be invalid. One common mistake is not having it properly witnessed and signed by two witnesses who not only saw the writer sign, but also saw each other sign. In other words, both the individual and his or her two witnesses should be in the same room at the same time when signing. In this case, litigation attorneys in Chicago may be able to resolve the issue relatively quickly.

The Decedent Didn't Have Testamentary Capacity

"Testamentary capacity" is simply the ability of the person writing the will to rightly understand what their estate and any assets are worth and truly understand the ramifications of how they are disposing of it. Litigation attorneys in Chicago may contest the document on a variety of grounds, including whether or not the deceased was capable of realizing the unintended results of excluding specific individuals from the estate. Because each person has their own opinion about whether another person should have inherited, contesting the will on these grounds can be a complex process.

The Decedent Was Under Extreme Duress

Our Chicago litigation attorneys have seen many situations where a frail or ailing individual has been pressured to alter their will by an unscrupulous relative or friend. In some cases, the pressure is severe enough to be considered undue influence, particularly when the document goes against the individual's stated wishes. There is a clear burden to prove that the deceased was pressured before they died in a manner that went beyond nagging. In court, you'll generally need to provide evidence and reliable testimony that the accused person used extreme measures such as isolating the individual, stealing an earlier version of the will, physical abuse or having the document prepared by their own attorney rather than the decedent's lawyer. Peck Ritchey's litigation attorneys can review your case and determine whether you have a valid claim to contest the will.

The Will Was The Result Of Fraud

Do you believe your loved one was tricked into signing a will that he didn't understand? Are you afraid that he might have signed a will not realizing what he were signing? If so, the courts shouldn't accept the document because it is fraudulent. Manipulative relatives sometimes coerce elderly individuals who are easily confused in order to make sure they aren't left out of the will or to increase their share of the estate. In other situations, an entirely new will may be prepared without the elderly individual's knowledge or understanding and given to the individual, who is told that it is a power of attorney, advance directive or some other legal document. A forged signature is another way that a dishonest heir can try to inherit, although this does require two others to be complicit as witnesses. If your loved one signed a will believing it was something else entirely or you believe her signature was forged, Peck Ritchey's litigation attorneys in Chicago can get to the heart of the matter for you.

Consult With Our Litigation Attorneys in Chicago

If you've been wrongly excluded from the last will and testament of someone you believe intended to leave you an inheritance, contact our office today for a free consultation. Our probate litigation attorneys in Chicago can determine the nature of your claim and guide you through the court proceedings, protecting your rights as an heir.

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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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