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.
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’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.
Managing the estate of a deceased friend or loved one can be challenging. There are legal requirements to meet and ramifications for nearly every decision you make. To make it more difficult, you’ll often have to make these decisions while still mourning the loss of your loved one. That’s why it’s important to have Peck Ritchey estate lawyers in Chicago helping you.
The job of fiduciary or executor often falls to the most trustworthy and honest person the decedent knew. While an honor, it comes with a great deal of responsibility that some people are unprepared to handle. Suddenly you are in charge of making sure the person’s final wishes are honored, will is filed and honored, debts and taxes are paid, obligations are taken care of and every day matters of living are attended to. Oh, and did we mention, you might have to do this under the scrutiny of heirs who don’t think you’re the best person for the job?
It’s for reasons like this that so many executors seek the advice, counsel and guidance of Peck Ritchey estate lawyers. Our estate lawyers in Chicago guide hundreds of executors through the probate process, help them manage wills and trusts and ensure they are performing their duties in compliance with the law every year.
How Peck Ritchey Estate Lawyers In Chicago Can Help
Anyone can be named the executor of an estate. You don’t need to have any special legal knowledge or be particularly good with finances. What you do need is to operate within the confines of the law. Sometimes, people get nervous just thinking about being responsible for someone else’s assets. Others get nervous when they realize there are legal requirements to be met and they don’t know what they are. Still others are too distraught over the loss to feel confident in their ability to make the best decisions.
Peck Ritchey estate lawyers can guide and support you through this maze. Our experience and expertise extends to all aspects of estate planning and administration. We can:
- Guide you through the probate process.
- Appear by your side in court, if need be.
- Assist in the transfer of assets.
- Help resolve claims.
- Ensure the estate plan gets implemented as intended.
- Prepare and file state and federal inheritance tax returns.
- Help you find and identify heirs and manage the estate if there is no will.
- Arrange for the disposition of assets.
- Help you identify individuals, agencies and services that should be notified of the decedent’s passing.
- Keep detailed records of all decisions, actions and transactions made related to the estate.
We will also make sure you’re meeting all of your legal obligations. It is vitally important that you follow the rules of law when fulfilling your fiduciary duties. If you fail to do so, you can open yourself up to personal liability and may find yourself getting sued by heirs or fined by the court or government agencies.
You have an important duty to fulfill. Let the Peck Ritchey estate lawyers in Chicago help you accomplish it. Contact us at (855) 328-5787 to learn more about our estate planning and administration services.
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.
As we live longer, we are sometimes less able to make sound decisions or care for ourselves. It’s in situations like this that guardianships, also known as conservatorships in the case of older adults, come in to play.
Guardianships and conservatorships are court-ordered arrangements where a capable adult is given the responsibility of managing another adult’s financial, healthcare or household affairs. They are commonly set up between children and their senior parents in situations where the parent is no longer able to make reasonable decisions on his or her own. In some cases, the parent has set up an advance directive which specifies who is to care for them when the time comes that they need a guardian or caretaker. It might even specify one person to manage their finances and another to manage their day-to-day life decisions or healthcare choices. Advance directives give the senior control over who will be responsible for him, but they must be set up well before they are needed.
More often than not, however, guardianship requests are brought before the court when it becomes apparent that the senior cannot care for him or herself any longer. In cases like these, the court makes the ultimate decision on who will be the guardian and what his or her responsibilities will be.
Protecting Seniors Through Guardianship Law
Seniors who are incapable of making sound decisions for themselves run the risk of being manipulated and/or abused by friends, family and strangers alike. Guardianship law helps avoid these types of situations. Guardianship law helps protect a person’s assets and finances from mismanagement or theft by giving responsibility for such to a court-appointed custodian. Likewise, seniors’ healthcare and living decisions are protected under guardianship law when a guardian is responsible for the decision-making.
Types Of Guardianships
There are three basic types of adult guardianship arrangements: Guardian of the Person, the Estate of Property and Plenary Guardian.
A Guardian of the Person oversees their charge’s health. They manage all aspects of healthcare from making appointments to paying medical bills and dealing with insurance. Guardians of the Person might work with assisted living facilities to manage living and care arrangements. This type of caretaking is common to advance medical directives.
Guardians of the Estate or Property manage their ward’s property, assets and finances. They might handle taxes and tax payments, the distribution and property and paying day-to-day expenses and bills.
A Plenary Guardian is a combination of the above-mentioned guardianships. Under guardianship law, plenary guardians manage nearly all aspects of their charge’s life.
Creating A Guardianship With Help From Your Peck Ritchey Attorney
To set up a guardianship or conservatorship, a formal request must be brought before the court. As expected when you are talking about managing someone else’s life for them, it is not a simple process, which is why working with a lawyer experienced in guardianship law is so highly recommended.
At Peck Ritchey our guardianship lawyers assist their clients every step of the way. From the initial filing of the legal papers to representing the client at court hearings, your guardianship law attorney will be a resource you can count on to guide you through the nuances of the legal process.
Even before papers are filed, you can expect your Peck Ritchey attorney to advise you of all of your options. Conservatorships are not the only way to protect seniors. Powers of attorney, trusts and estate planning are just a few of the tools available to you if you want to avoid guardianships or if you are denied a guardianship request.
Working with one of our experienced elder care attorneys will make the process easier and ensure you’re choosing the best course of action for everyone involved. Our attorneys can help capable seniors set up advance care directives or they can help concerned relatives create a guardianship for their loved ones.
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.
With the holiday season upon us, it’s important to check in with family members. When visiting your parents or elderly relatives consider asking more than just how they are doing.
Do you know how to spot signs of elder abuse?
Are your elderly relatives able to live well on their own? Perhaps looking into obtaining a caretaker or moving them into a senior living facility should be considered for the future.
Ask about their routines, health and social interactions to get a better picture if they need more help in their day-to-day lives.
Finances may not be an easy topic of discussion but looking for clues in conversation could help you recognize signs of financial abuse. For example:
- A new “friendship” with someone who has nothing in common with the older person.
- Sudden changes in regular banking withdrawal activity.
- Co-signing or guaranteeing a loan for someone else.
Do you know your family members’ end-of-life wishes?
Not only should you learn about their wishes but you should also find out if and where they are documented. If funeral arrangements have been prepared ahead of time, do the right people know where to find burial plot information, etc?
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.
Peck Ritchey concentrates in all aspects of probate, estate planning, guardianship, tax law, nursing home injuries, elder abuse and elder law. Our attorneys provide innovative approaches and successful solutions to meet your needs.
For a no-cost, 30 minute consultation call 312.201.0900.
One of the better ways to financially protect an elderly individual is setting up a trust.
The type selected depends on the goals and circumstances of the donor or grantor who is providing the money and property to fund the trust. It also depends upon the circumstances of the person who is to benefit from the trust.
A living trust, also known as a Revocable Living Trust, is not the same as a living will, which provides medical care decisions. A revocable living trust is created while the person is still alive and can be modified at any time; it’s an easier alternative to organize assets and allows for efficient property distribution upon one’s death.
When considering setting up a revocable living trust for an elderly individual, it’s also important to first consider their mental capacity. Do they have the ability to: transact ordinary business and understand the trust that they are signing?
Did you know?
- If the person with the trust becomes mentally incapacitated, their trustee can manage their assets rather than a court-supervised guardian or conservator.
- A Revocable Living Trust helps avoid probate and the details of trust agreement cannot become public record.
- When the person with the living trust dies, those assets go directly to the beneficiaries named in the trust agreement.
The attorneys of Peck Ritchey, LLC are recognized leaders in estate, trust and guardianship litigation. For more information on setting up a trust by speaking to a trust litigation attorney, visit our website or call directly at (855) 328-5787.