Tough Questions Your Estate Attorneys In Chicago Will Ask

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Working with estate attorneys in Chicago can be uncomfortable — after all, there are some tough questions that need to be asked and answered. However, the entire experience can be made less stressful if you know what types of questions your attorney will ask. Before you make an appointment with estate attorneys in Chicago, make sure you know the answers to these questions.

Estate Attorneys In Chicago Ask: Who Will Care For Minor Children?

If you have minor children, this is an important question to answer — who will take care of them if both you and your spouse dies? However, having an answer to this question isn’t enough. You should also make sure that the person you name guardian agrees with your decision. If they don’t, your death could be even more stressful as the guardian struggles with their new role and your children struggle with the loss of their parents.

Estate Attorneys In Chicago Ask: Are There Any Other Descendants Or Companions?

If your estate attorneys in Chicago seem to ask the same question again and again, it’s not because they don’t remember your answers! Oftentimes when an attorney asks if there are any other descendants, the answer is initially no. A few days later, however, the attorney receives a call that tells them, yes, there’s a secret descendant. If you have a child from a previous relationship, now is the time to have a conversation. It will likely be uncomfortable, but it can be stressful for your loved ones if this relationship comes to light at your funeral or immediately following your death.

If you have a relationship outside of your marriage, it’s also important to disclose it to estate attorneys in Chicago. He or she will be able to advise you on how to approach this relationship in your will, if you want to at all. If you don’t want to provide to your partner, you’re not obligated to do so. However, letting your estate attorneys in Chicago know about the relationship can help them defend against a will contestation after you’re gone.

Estate Attorneys In Chicago Ask: What About Pets?

Man’s best friend needs a plan for when you’re gone too. If you have pets and want to make sure they’re taken care of after you’re gone, have estate attorneys in Chicago put in a provision for them. You can decide who’s going to care for these pets and even leave funds available for their care.

Estate Attorneys In Chicago Ask: What About Health Care?

Lastly, decide what you want to do in case that you’re left in a vegetative state. Do you want life-sustaining measures taken or do you want ventilators and feeding tubes turned off? Don’t rely on your family members to make these decisions for you, especially if you haven’t made your wishes fully clear. When you spell them out in a health care directive, there will be no question as to what your wishes are.

If you’re in the beginning stages of the estate planning process, these are just a few of the many hard questions estate attorneys in Chicago will ask. Before you meet with one, think about your wishes and how you want your affairs handled after you’re gone.

To meet with professional and qualified estate attorneys in Chicago from Peck Ritchey, please call us at (312) 201-0900.

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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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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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Think You Don’t Need Estate Attorneys In Chicago? Why Everyone Needs This Type Of Lawyer

Elder Law ChicagoIt’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.

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Don’t Make These Six Mistakes When Writing Your Will

Estate Planning DocumentIf you haven’t yet prepared a will, you’re probably putting it off because you aren’t sure what to include, how to structure it to protect your heirs or even how to establish a trust for your children. That’s perfectly normal – most individuals are confused by the many laws surrounding a last will and testament, but you can quickly get clarification from a Chicago will attorney at Peck Ritchey. Rather than run the risk of leaving behind a confusing or invalid will, talk to us about having your will prepared properly. We can help you avoid the following common mistakes:

Mistake #1: Neglecting To Assign An Executor Or Chicago Will Attorney

While the courts can appoint an executor for your estate, it’s best to choose a person you know and trust as the executor of your will. Almost any Chicago will attorney can tell you a tale about a court-appointed executor who winds up causing problems because he or she simply didn’t understand or care about the wishes of the deceased person. A Chicago will attorney can help you choose someone who has the right skills, is trusted by the family, and who will execute the will faithfully.

Mistake #2: Trying To Mix Assets

Family fights and bad blood can be avoided if your will clearly outlines what each heir inherits and what should be done with the bulk of your estate. Many people who are executors, however, attempt to mix assets or don’t fully understand the importance of keeping specific bequests separate. If there is an independent life insurance policy in effect or joint accounts that your loved one had with another individual, the situation can be even more confusing. To make sure that you don’t mix assets and that you understand which assets should be included or left out of the estate, consult with a Chicago will attorney.

Mistake #3: Not Making Funeral Plans

This is a crucial aspect of an estate that is often overlooked by individuals trying to write their own wills. They assume that their children or grandchildren will be able to make the funeral arrangements themselves. Sadly, this often leads to unnecessary bickering when everyone is trying to mourn and when most people are particularly sensitive to criticism. One person may feel that a cherry wood coffin and a lavish funeral with hundreds of mourners is appropriate while another heir may feel that their loved one would have preferred a private send-off with minimal fuss. A Chicago will attorney can assist you in outlining your funeral wishes clearly and in detail so that your descendants don’t have to go through the painful process of making arrangements.

Mistake #4: Not Appointing A Guardian For Your Children

No one thinks they will die while their children are still young, but it has happened often enough that every parent should prepare in advance for the possibility. Without stipulating a guardian for your children, they could end up wards of the court and given over to a guardian you would not have chosen because of their age, a fundamentally different lifestyle, or a religious view that doesn’t agree with your own. Talk to a Chicago will attorney at Peck Ritchey about choosing and appointing an appropriate guardian so that your children will be raised in a manner closely aligned with your own beliefs and child-rearing methods.

Mistake #5: Forgetting Fido

Despite their status as members of your family, pets are considered personal property by probate courts. That means your dogs or cats could end up being sold or given away if you don’t specifically leave them to an heir who will care for and love them. A Chicago will attorney may also advise you to leave a specific amount of money to the person who inherits your pet or pets to defray the expenses of caring for your furry friend.

Mistake #6: Not Paying Off Debts Before Distributing The Estate

As the executor of an estate, you may discover that the heirs to an estate are anxious to get their fair share of the inheritance. Often, they will want the executor to distribute the funds as soon as possible, not understanding or caring that there may be substantial debts or obligations that have to be paid for out of the estate before the remainder is distributed to the heirs. When preparing your own will, a Chicago will attorney can assist you in writing clear instructions for paying off debts and obligations from a bank account set aside specifically for this purpose. This allows for quicker distribution of the estate, while protecting executors from liability if additional expenses are discovered.

At Peck Ritchey, a will attorney isn’t just a lawyer who creates a standard document. He or she will be your advisor every step of the way, suggesting ways to structure your estate in order to protect your heirs and ensure that your final wishes are carried out faithfully. Visit our website to schedule an initial consultation.

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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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Elder Care Lawyers In Chicago: Helping Seniors Protect Themselves And Their Assets

Retirement, long-term care, Social Security, Medicaid. These are just some of the new issues we have to deal with as we age. For many of us, these issues and the changes they bring can be overwhelming and confusing. Elder care lawyers in Chicago can help you make sense of the decisions you have to make and clear your confusion.

Elder Care Lawyers In Chicago Specialize In Issues Affecting Seniors

Consulting a firm of elder care lawyers in Chicago can be one of the smartest moves you make as a senior citizen. These attorneys have dedicated their legal practice to understanding the issues seniors face and developing legal solutions to carry their clients through their golden years while maintaining their quality of life. Elder care lawyers in Chicago work with seniors and their loved ones to develop legal protections that ensure their clients needs are met for the rest of their lives and that their last wishes are honored.

In addition to providing legal services, elder care lawyers in Chicago often tap into their network of senior resources to help their clients manage day-to-day life. These professionals can often be counted on to provide suggestions or recommendations for public and private agencies or services that serve the senior population such as home healthcare assistance, Meals on Wheels programs and transitional housing programs.

Areas Of Legal Expertise 

Since seniors are affected by nearly all aspects of the law, and even some that are unique to older adults, it should come as no surprise to find elder care lawyers in Chicago with a wide range of expertise. In fact, the field of elder law is so broad that it is not unusual for a firm of elder care lawyers in Chicago to employ several lawyers, each with only a few specialties. By setting up the practice this way, the firm can ensure their clients receive expert knowledge and service in very specific areas as opposed to a single lawyer who can provide general knowledge of many areas, but not a high level of expertise in any.

Areas of concentration among elder care lawyers in Chicago include:

  • Estate Planning
  • Wills, Probate and Trusts
  • Guardianships and Conservatorships
  • Healthcare Planning, including End-Of-Life and Long Term Care decisions
  • Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid and other entitlement programs
  • Retirement Planning
  • Asset Protection
  • Taxes
  • Insurance
  • Age Discrimination
  • Elder Abuse and Neglect
  • Litigation

Hands-On Services

Elder care lawyers in Chicago often serve in more hands-on capacities as well. They may act as executors of wills or trusts or be called upon to administer the estate after death. They can guide the estate administrators through the probate process and assist with the filing of inheritance tax returns, resolving claims and fulfilling the wishes of the deceased.

One of the greatest services provided by elder care lawyers in Chicago, however, is simply the advice and support they offer seniors and their families. Elder care lawyers are professionals who understand the unique needs and limitations of seniors and have spent their entire practice designing solutions to seniors’ most pressing legal needs.

If you need to consult elder care lawyers in Chicago, contact the attorneys at Peck Ritchey. We provide litigation and transactional services for seniors covering all aspects of elder law in the Chicagoland area.

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Understanding Elder Law In Chicago

As our population ages, more and more attention is being paid to elder law. Chicago area seniors and their families are seeking out these specialty lawyers and have come to rely on their expertise to guide them through all of the new experiences that come with aging, to help them plan for their golden years and to ensure their last wishes are honored.

But what is this fast-growing field of law, and do you really need a lawyer concentrating in elder law in Chicago?

What Is Elder Law?

Broadly, elder law is a legal practice that specializes in issues affecting older adults. The attorneys who specialize in elder law in Chicago help their clients plan for the future by developing legal solutions to financial, healthcare, relational and transactional needs. Almost any legal issue can fall under the scope of elder law, but firms that practice elder law in Chicago and elsewhere usually have strong experience in estate planning, long-term care planning and advance directives, wills, trusts, probate, guardianships, retirement planning, Medicare, Medicaid and other entitlement programs and many other issues that affect seniors like Alzheimer’s and dementia, long-term disability, age discrimination and tax planning.

They can also advocate for seniors in tenant/landlord relations, nursing home disputes, in cases of elder abuse or neglect, and represent them in all legal matters, including litigation.

A Team Approach To Elder Law In Chicago

Elder law encompasses so many topics, it’s nearly impossible to find one lawyer who is an expert in every situation. More likely, you will find firms of elder law attorneys like Peck Ritchey. Our firm practices elder law in Chicago and we have many qualified attorneys who have each practiced in a few specific areas. This allows us to offer many services to our clients from lawyers who have dedicated an enormous amount of time to very specific areas of expertise.

Additionally, elder law lawyers work closely with their senior clients and their family members to develop legal solutions that meet the clients’ needs. There is never a one-size-fits-all approach, but rather a team effort between the client, his family and the attorney to come to the best solution.

The Big Picture

A good elder law lawyer will be interested in the big picture of their clients’ lives. They will take into account the client’s finances, health and familial support to develop solutions that will provide a high quality of life for the rest of their clients’ lives.

Not only that, these attorneys often have access to resources for the elderly and can help them find programs and support services that they need, such as home healthcare providers, assisted living facilities or nursing homes, and even local senior services.

When To Hire A Firm That Concentrates In Elder Law In Chicago

Hiring an elder law lawyer or firm is a good idea for any older adult who wants to plan ahead for his golden years by developing an estate plan or designing a healthcare directive. If your will needs updating or you want to protect your heirs from having to go through probate, an elder law firm can help.

In addition to planning services, a firm can help if you are having problems obtaining Medicare, Medicaid or Social Security benefits.

If you suspect your elderly parents have been neglected by their caregivers or have been a victim of fraud, elder care lawyers can help you protect your parents’ rights and if your parents are no longer able to care for themselves, an elder care lawyer can help you obtain a guardianship.

If you’re in need of a firm that practices elder law in Chicago, contact the attorneys at Peck Ritchey, LLC. We provide litigation and transactional services for seniors covering all aspects of elder law in Chicago.

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Estate Planning in a Down Economy: Not Just for the Wealthy

A recent Lawyers.com survey reveals a drop in estate planning for 2009, with only 35% of Americans having a will. Although the down economy is causing everyone to cut corners and cut back, the repercussions of not having an estate plan upon death haven’t changed. No matter what your net worth, just as you are still putting money into your 401K for retirement, it is essential to have a basic estate plan in place to relieve your family of the unnecessary stresses related to end-of-life issues and probate.

Estate Planning Can:

  • Protect assets from creditors;
  • Preserve family wealth for future generations;
  • Put conditions on HOW and WHEN your assets are distributed;
  • Assure that your money and property go to the people YOU intend upon death;
  • Prevent disputes or confusion regarding inheritances;
  • Declare whom you want making medical and financial decisions for you if you are incapacitated; and
  • Reduce estate and gift taxes.

Plan in advance to avoid court battles involving end-of-life decisions or post-death family disputes, which cost much more than the basic estate plan.

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