It’s only natural for most people to put off getting an estate plan in order. But what people may not realize is that if a medical emergency happens, like a car accident or a stroke, their medical wishes and treatment may not be handled in the manner they would have liked.
Say your mother is in the hospital and incapacitated. Unless you are her Power of Attorney, you may not be able to make decisions with regard to her treatment.
It’s never too early to put Powers of Attorney in place because this will allow the person you select to make the decisions for your medical treatment as closely to your wishes if you become unable to make choices for yourself. But it can be too late to get this important legal document drafted!
If you wait too long and suffer a brain injury or get a diagnosis of dementia or Alzheimer’s disease you may have to get a guardian; this can be a complicated legal matter you may wish to avoid.
Since you cannot plan for medical emergencies it’s best to be proactive. Drafting a will and securing Powers of Attorney are the first steps in protecting your future-and one less thing to worry about when a medical emergency does occur.
It's a common misconception — estate attorneys in Chicago are only needed if you're extremely wealthy. However, this is completely false! If you have a modest lifestyle and don't own a private jet or other luxuries, here's how estate attorneys in Chicago can help you.
Estate Attorneys In Chicago Can Establish A Living Will
Even though it seems slightly morbid, it's important to think about what happens if you're suddenly incapacitated and unable to speak for yourself. Whether you had a major medical event, such as a heart attack or stroke, or were in a car accident, it's important that your family members know how much — or how little — medical care you want to receive. Perhaps the thought of living on a ventilator for the rest of your life bothers you or you don't want to receive life-sustaining nutrition if you're unable to eat on your own.
A living will can take the guesswork out of your family members' hands. They won't have to worry about arguing over what they think you would have liked, because your living will can make sure everyone knows your wishes.
Estate Attorneys In Chicago Can Establish Guardianship
If you have minor children, do you know what would happen to them if you were to suddenly die? While this is any parent's nightmare, it's important to plan for this possibility, just in case. Before you meet with estate attorneys in Chicago, talk to your friends and family members. Ask them if they're willing to step up and raise your children in case you pass away and then have your attorneys draw up guardianship papers so there's no question. This important step can help ensure that your children are left in a stable household, no matter what happens to you.
Guardianship also refers to the legal guardianship of adults who are no longer able to care for themselves. Establishing guardianship of an adult means that you'll be able to make medical and financial decisions for them, but you must be appointed by a court order for the guardianship to be legal.
Estate Attorneys In Chicago Can Create A Power Of Attorney
A power of attorney is a useful document if you're ever unable to access your money, sign legal paperwork or make medical decisions. A power of attorney can be special or limited. If you decide on a limited power of attorney, your estate attorneys in Chicago will be able to advise you on just what it entails because the power will be limited to the specifications in the document. A special power of attorney will give your agent full power of representation in all situations. If you're not sure which document is right for your situation, make sure to ask your estate attorneys in Chicago for their advice to make sure that you're choosing the right one.
Someone with a power of attorney can make medical decisions for you if you're unable to make them yourself. However the difference between this and a living will is that with a power of attorney, the agent does not have to take your wishes into consideration. If you have a specific way you want medical issues to be handled, a living will is a necessary document.
You don't need to be very wealthy to take advantage of estate attorneys in Chicago, as everyone should have a living will, establish guardianship for their minor children and have a power of attorney in case they're unable to make decisions for themselves.
If you're looking for estate attorneys in Chicago, Peck Ritchey, LLC can help. We can help you understand the complex issues surrounding estate planning to make sure you — and your loved ones — are taken care of.
Depending on when a will was written there are often questions or disputes over the estate and final wishes of the family member who passed away. Perhaps the will document is 30 years old and didn’t account for a new business or updated beneficiaries. Or maybe a will was drafted 30 days ago, but the person had Alzheimer’s disease.
In either circumstance, litigation will likely be the end result.
Chicago elder law firm Peck Ritchey, LLC handles disputed accountings, recovery of assets, claims, heirship disputes, and scores of other potential estate or guardianship litigation. The attorneys of Peck Ritchey, LLC are recognized leaders in estate, trust and guardianship litigation. For example, Kerry Peck was asked by the Illinois Institute of Continuing Legal Education to author chapters on Will Contests and Guardianship.
What can you expect when contesting a will?
Once you hire a litigation attorney, he or she files the appropriate paperwork. Then in discovery your attorney will gather information to determine the validity of the dispute; this can include depositions and subpoenas for various documents.
There are several possible outcomes of a will contest, including going to trial, settling out of court, having the case dismissed or voluntarily withdrawn. Having an experienced litigation lawyer on your side is essential to help ensure your loved one’s final wishes are met.
If you are questioning any aspect of your family member’s will, contact a Chicago litigation lawyer at Peck Ritchey, LLC for a complementary 30 minute consultation at 312.201.0900.
Estate 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.
As the snow melts and the temperature steadily rises, the urge to clean house is eminent. As you stock up on cleaning products and make a to-do list, don’t forget to review your legal documents. Getting your paperwork in order may be the most productive thing you can do for yourself and your family all year. By making sure you have all your ducks in a row, you can help ensure your family is prepared and protected in case of an emergency.
Questions to add to your to-do list:
- Do I know where all my legal paperwork is stored?
- Do I know where my parents or elderly family members’ paperwork is stored?
- Is my will up-to-date?
- Have I updated the beneficiaries on my legal documents, insurance policies, etc?
- Do my parents have a funeral plan in place, and if so what are the details?
After you dust off your legal documents, contact the estate planning attorneys at Peck Ritchey, LLC for a complementary consultation at 312-200-0900. Our team can guide you through updating your legal paperwork and assist your family members who may need to consider Powers of Attorney or a trust.
Be aware that as of January 1, 2013 there were major changes in estate tax law. If you are not aware of these tax changes it’s imperative that you speak with an estate planning attorney. Not only will getting your estate plan in order give you piece of mind, but it will also help prevent conflict in the future.
With 2012 quickly coming to a close, people begin drafting their lists of New Year’s resolutions. While many will join a gym or vow to stop smoking as a way to improve their lives, they will often overlook getting their legal paperwork in order.
It may not be a priority for all, but updating beneficiaries after major life events such as marriage, divorce, the birth of a child or the passing of a family member is an important thing to do.
Take inventory of your documents. Where are insurance policies, retirement paperwork and investment information saved? It’s critical to have this kind of information at hand in case of an emergency.
And while making legal decisions is often difficult, our team offers compassionate, informed, and dedicated service. Peck Ritchey, LLC staff counsels clients with up-to-the-minute advice that will protect their assets during their lifetime and for their family after the client’s death.
Peck Ritchey estate attorneys will meet at an office location that is most convenient for their clients; Peck Ritchey has office locations in Chicago, Northbrook, Orland Park and Skokie. The firm also provides legal services for DuPage County.
Take the opportunities over these next few months to examine how happy and healthy your older relatives’ lives really are. You can help avoid future emergencies by productively discussing their current and future living situations now.
Everyone should have a will in place that will effectively distribute their estate according to their wishes, but many people never get around to it. Despite the difficulty, everyone should prepare a will in order to protect their friends and loved ones. A Chicago estate lawyer can simplify the process and help individuals in a variety of ways in order to prepare a legally binding document that will hold up in court.
DIY Wills May Not Be Valid
It’s tempting to save a bit of money by using an online program or a software template to write your will, but it’s often a mistake that can cost your heirs a lot of money and heartache when your will goes to probate after you’ve passed on. Most programs or kits for preparing a last will and testament are very basic, not taking any number of variables into account. A Chicago estate lawyer is familiar with all of the legal statutes that apply to preparing an estate and drafting a legal will and can ensure that your document is legally binding.
A Chicago Estate Lawyer Will Make Sure Your Directives Are Legal And Appropriate
Although you may want your will to simply say that your entire estate goes to your children, the court will generally consider such a document too vague. Other common issues include leaving an inheritance of money or property to minor children who can’t legally inherit directly. For minor children, a Chicago estate lawyer can prepare a trust that appropriately handles the money until a child reaches a designated age. Trusts can also be designed to protect your estate and provide for someone who is incapable of providing for himself. If you are hesitant about leaving a large estate or large sums of money to other adults, talk to a Chicago estate lawyer at Peck Ritchey about creating an appropriate trust to administer the money according to your wishes.
Leaving Unwell Or Elderly Family Members “Out In The Cold”
When you’re working with an estate attorney, you’ll naturally put a lot of thought into outlining a plan to care for your children, but what about an elderly parent or grandparent who might outlive you? If you are currently caring for them, they could be literally left out in the cold if no one is willing to spend the time or money to care for them properly. Peck Ritchey attorneys have dealt with many estates where the deceased assumed incorrectly that other relatives would be happy to step up and care for elderly parents. A Chicago estate lawyer can help you prepare a plan that addresses these issues and puts aside funds from your estate that will be used for their safety and well-being.
Leaving An Outdated Will In Place Is As Bad As No Will At ALL
A will that you prepared when you got married isn’t good enough if you now have children to raise and elderly parents who need care. Preparing one document and then locking it away because you assume it will serve its purpose no matter how much time has passed is an unfortunate mistake many parents make. Without a document that specifically stipulates who the guardian of your children should be, the courts can step in and appoint a relative who would not have been your first choice for their care. If the years have gone by with the typical births, deaths, name changes, relocations and marriages, a Chicago estate attorney will likely tell you that the will may not hold up in court because the circumstances of potential heirs have changed considerably.
Not Being Specific About Personal Property
You may feel certain that when you pass away, your children and grandchildren will divide up personal items such as jewelry or coin collections in a way that is fair to everyone, but the reality is usually a bit more grim. In some cases, siblings can start a feud over something as specific as who gets your diamond earrings or who inherits your collection of miniature cars. These kinds of arguments can quickly turn into family feuds that tie up your estate in court for years.
Preparing your will should be part of an overall estate plan to protect your assets and your heirs. At Peck Ritchey, a Chicago estate lawyer can be your greatest asset when you sit down to prepare you own will.
Most of us don’t like to think about eventually dying, but we know that it will happen one day. Unfortunately, many of us don’t plan ahead. If you pass away without an estate plan and a valid will, your heirs will be left without any way of knowing what your last wishes would have been. Many families discover too late that an outdated will doesn’t address more current issues such as guardianship of children. Peck Ritchey’s elder law lawyers recently ranked the top five mistakes made by individuals with regard to their estates and/or wills.
Mistake #1: Assuming They Don’t Need An Estate Plan
There seems to be a misconception that unless you’re worth millions, you don’t need estate planning. Attorneys in Chicago have seen countless families suffer needlessly because someone didn’t clearly state their wishes in a will. You may think you have enough life insurance to take care of your family’s needs; you may also hope that your heirs will gladly divide up personal effects such as jewelry without a squabble. The reality is rarely so easy. Talk to one of our Chicago estate attorneys if you don’t want your children fighting over who gets your wedding rings or who inherits your awesome collection of classic rock albums. In many cases, life insurance may not go very far, and inheritance taxes can eat up a sizable portion of your assets if you die without a will. Meeting with our estate planning attorneys in Chicago should be your first step toward maximizing your estate and diminishing future inheritance taxes.
Mistake #2: Not Updating Your Current Plan
If you wrote a will when you got married fifteen years ago, it’s time to review it with your spouse and our estate planning attorneys, particularly if you have minor children. Chicago estate attorneys can help you review and update your will to reflect your wishes more accurately and designate appropriate guardians for your children. Remind your parents that they should do the same so that they can choose who will make decisions for them if they are incapacitated. Peck Ritchey’s elder wills lawyers in Chicago can walk them through the process, ensuring that every generation of your family is protected by an estate plan.
Mistake #3: Using A Boilerplate Will Template
Preparing a will without consulting with estate planning attorneys is the same as constructing a building without consulting the blue prints. Chicago estate attorneys are familiar with Illinois state inheritance laws and can craft a plan that works for you and your family. An online will that’s downloaded and completed using “fill in the blanks” usually doesn’t work. Estate attorneys at Peck Ritchey can review your accounts, investments and wishes and propose an appropriate estate plan.
Mistake #4: Failing To Appropriately Designate Beneficiaries
If you have accounts such as life insurance policies, an annuity or pension that will pay out to your spouse or children after your death, be sure to review these with our Chicago estate attorneys. Many people forget that these don’t automatically pay out to your wife or children. Instead, the designated beneficiaries were chosen by name at some point. More than one client has been surprised to discover that their old railway pension or the 401K from a job held years ago designated an ex-spouse or didn’t include all of their children. Any designated beneficiary will automatically override even a more recent will. Estate planning attorneys in Chicago can help you prepare the appropriate paperwork to update all of your accounts and designate the proper heirs.
Mistake #5: Putting Off Meeting With Estate Planning Attorneys In Chicago
Your parents or grandparents may have already met with elder wills lawyers in Chicago, but you may be thinking, “I’m too young to worry about my estate yet.” Sadly, many people put it off until it’s too late and the spouse and children they left behind suffer the consequences when they die unexpectedly. If you have young children or a family member who requires special care, don’t put off consulting with our estate planning attorneys. Chicago families should clearly designate who will care for these family members in the event you no longer can.
Peck Ritchey’s estate planning attorneys in Chicago are ready to help you put together an estate plan that will ensure your last wishes are carried out properly while protecting your family and heirs.
Simply writing a will won’t mean your wishes will be honored in probate court when you die. The complexities of probate laws in most states can mean confusion over the intent of your will after you pass away. Estate attorneys can explain the many probate laws in your state and help you structure your estate in a way that will guarantee your assets are distributed according to your wishes. Estate attorneys can also minimize the chance that disputes will be filed by probate attorneys on behalf of individuals contesting your will.
Not Every Will Is Straightforward
Greed and jealousy can rear their ugly heads among normally loving relatives if there is a lot at stake. In many cases, relatives will hire probate attorneys to contest a will that has left them out of the picture. A standard will can be difficult to interpret or uphold in court if those contesting it have hired experienced Chicago probate attorneys. The more scrutiny your will is under, the less likely it will stand up in probate court if you haven’t attended to the details by working with estate attorneys when drafting it.
Estate Lawyers In Chicago Can Craft A Customized Will
Estate lawyers can help write a will that addresses any unusual wishes you might have. For example: If you die unexpectedly and don’t want your children to have full access to your assets while they are still minors. Consulting with Chicago probate attorneys or estate attorneys can help you structure your estate and establish a trust fund or restricted account, protecting the bulk of the estate until your children are old enough to handle it responsibly.
Estate attorneys can also help you address issues such as who will raise your children and what to do with your home when you pass away. There are dozens of other issues to contend with as well, estate lawyers in Chicago or you local area can advise you on how to address these concerns properly.
Death And Taxes: Coping With A Sure Thing
Unfortunately both death and taxes are unavoidable, that is why consulting with estate attorneys sooner rather than later is essential. Inheritance taxes are complex and can vary widely from state to state. Estate Planning attorneys are often also CPA’s and are well versed in tax law issues surrounding wills and estates. They can offer suggestions and can recommend an appropriate tax attorney. Experienced estate lawyers and probate attorneys can help you understand the tax ramifications of your death so that you can prepare now, and have your family protected later.
Using A Standard Will Template Can Lead to Problems
Do not be lulled into assuming that writing a will using a standard template will protect your heirs. Your seemingly simple instructions can quickly mushroom into a family feud or a battle of the probate attorneys. Printing a form off of the Internet does not guarantee your wishes will be followed, the form may not even be legal, may not cover all areas of your estate and even if it does, without an attorney, you cannot ensure you have signed the document properly for it to be recognized by the court.
By planning now and working with estate attorneys can minimize family strife and greatly reduce the chance that your heirs will need probate attorneys to fight for their rights. Protect your heirs properly by meeting with estate attorneys now rather than waiting until it’s too late.