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.
The 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 If you find a 30 year old will or outdated powers of attorney it’s time to consult with an estate planning attorney.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.
If 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.
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.
Legal proceedings relating to estate matters can often be complex and intimidating, even for experienced attorneys who aren’t familiar with this particular specialty. They can also be especially difficult because they often deal with delicate family matters, both in the planning stages and when a trust or estate must be administered following the passing of a loved one. When choosing between estate lawyers in Chicago it can be helpful to keep a few basic questions in mind to ensure that the attorney you select will be able to offer you the best possible representation.
How Long Have You Been Practicing Law?
This is generally the first question that comes to mind for most families seeking estate lawyers in Chicago. An attorney with a wealth of experience, especially if they have spent a good portion of their tenure focusing on estate planning, will have had the opportunity to be exposed to a wide variety of case details and documentation. Estate proceedings involve a great deal of documentation and wills, trusts and power of attorney forms used by experienced attorneys have often been repeatedly revised to adjust to the varying needs of their clients.
Do You Primarily Focus On Estate Planning?
This question will be of particular importance if your case has the potential to present complications to a general attorney who may have only passing experience in preparing simple wills or healthcare documents. Extenuating circumstances involving family or financial matters, large taxable estates or pre-existing legal proceedings may require the expertise of a specialized attorney who devotes the majority of his or her time to dealing with such matters.
Have You Had Experience In Cases Similar To Mine?
Finding the right match for your individual needs is important in any legal proceeding. Taking the time to go over some of the basic details with perspective estate lawyers in Chicago will help to give you the peace of mind that the lawyer you choose has had experience, and ideally success, in handling similar cases. A reputable firm will be happy to provide you with a listing of cases they’ve handled in the past and provide you with an idea of how the proceedings unfolded.
How Will I Be Charged By Estate Lawyers In Chicago?
While the quality of the representation is paramount, it’s also very important to understand how a given firm’s fees are handled. While some attorneys charge a flat fee, others may bill an hourly rate. It’s also important to find out up front what is and is not covered by any flat rate fee in order to avoid any unexpected charges. Here at Peck Ritchey, there are no hidden costs or surprises, we strive to ensure that our clients receive the best possible representation while being fully informed about our fees.
What Is The Process Moving Forward?
If you’ve determined that a perspective attorney may be a good fit, ask them to lay out the next steps in the process. Having an idea of how different estate lawyers in Chicago might proceed in handling your affairs can give you peace of mind and insight into their particular process. This is also your opportunity to determine if you will be comfortable sharing the details of your life with a given lawyer. The more at ease you feel with the individual handling your estate matters, the more likely you are to be upfront and forthcoming with the information they require to help you make the best decisions possible.
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!
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.
Many people watch legal dramas on television and think that an attorney spends the majority of his or her time in court, arguing before a judge or jury. While it’s true that some attorneys work in litigation, there is one group of lawyers that dedicate themselves to helping their clients as they age. Getting older is certainly inevitable, but there are certain steps that an attorney that concentrates in elder law in Chicago can take to help older adults as they age.
Estate Planning Lawyers Who Work With Elder Law In Chicago
Estate planning is a major part of an elder law attorney’s job. While many people know that estate planning is important, they don’t really understand what this means. One of the first things that needs to be done is writing a will. A will can help your family members understand what will happen with your belongings after you pass on, which can help alleviate a lot of stress for your family members after you’re gone.
However, a will isn’t the only document that needs to be drawn up. You’ll also need to create a power of attorney. This document is useful in the event that you’re unable to make medical decisions for yourself, because it gives another person the authority to speak for you. A living will can also help with specific medical situations, such as if you’re unable to breathe or eat on your own.
Guardianship Attorneys Who Specialize In Elder Law In Chicago
No one really wants to think about the day their parents are unable to care for themselves, but if this happens, it’s important to work with a lawyer who can help with elder law in Chicago. These attorneys can assist you throughout the legal process of taking over your parents’ medical decisions and finances, which can help keep older adults safe from scammers.
Planning For Unique Situations
Although it’s hard to talk about, many people will need some sort of professional care as they age. An attorney who understands elder law in Chicago will be able to plan for long-term medical care, including cases of Alzheimer’s disease. Long-term care can be quite expensive and these attorneys help families maximize care, while keeping finances intact.
If you’re concerned with taking care of your aging parents or another beloved older adult, the best thing to do is to contact attorneys who specialize in elder law in Chicago. The professional team of attorneys at Peck Ritchey always keeps your family’s best interests in mind. Working with a professional attorney who understands elder law in Chicago can help ensure that your family is well taken care of.
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 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.