Attorney Provides Customized Estate Planning Services in Kane and Cook Counties
A will is a critical aspect of a comprehensive estate plan used to document your wishes regarding the distribution of your property and assets after you die. A will names an executor who will administer your estate, to avoid having the court make this selection. If a suitable and willing individual is not available, often a representative of a financial institution, accountant or attorney is a viable option. If applicable, the Illinois courts distribute 50% of the estate to a surviving spouse, with the remainder split among the children. Those with minor children should name a guardian in the event of death. With over 25 years’ experience, The Gierach Law Firm delivers smart, client-centric solutions in matters such a wills, trusts, life insurance, and powers of attorney to comprise estate plans.
A trust designates an individual or entity as a trustee who is responsible for administering an estate according to a set of directives. The recipients of the assets in a trust are beneficiaries. The term “living trust” describes a document containing an agreement charting how the trustee should administer the trust during life or after death. This aspect differentiates a trust from a will, which takes effect exclusively following death. Trusts may be revocable, meaning able to be changed as necessary. They require a source(s) of funding; otherwise, it would merely be a set of instructions without assets to manage. Living trusts allow for naming co-trustees. Upon death, a trust functions similarly to a will in how assets are to be distributed.
Life Insurance Trusts
A life insurance trust (LIT) is a form of living trust established either in revocable or irrevocable form. A revocable LIT is often created to hold and disperse life insurance funds after death. The trustee may be the beneficiary, who in turn, transitions the proceeds according to the terms of the trust. A LIT is often used as a vehicle to avoid involvement with probate and/or creditor claims. An irrevocable LIT, which is not designed to be altered, may be a tool for minimizing estate taxes.
Estate Tax Planning in Trusts
With assistance from a seasoned attorney, both a living trust and a will can be used in ways to minimize estate taxes, particularly for those who are married. A trust is not ordinarily created solely for tax-related purposes, as the benefits are roughly the same as those applying to a will. It is best to approach tax strategies in a scope reflective of an overall comprehensive estate plan to maximize your tax benefits.
Yearly gifts up to $14,000 (2016) are allowed per recipient without incurring gift taxes. Your attorney may also assess opportunities to pay medical and/or educational expenses directly as gifts. Couples may avoid taxes by transferring assets to a spouse; however, in high-value estates, this must be done while considering exemption level concerns.
Power of Attorney
A power of attorney (POA) assigns an agent, or “attorney in fact” to tend to your matters if unable to do so, such as if severely injured. POA’s may be specific for property matters, health concerns, or be general and all-encompassing. A financial POA ceases upon an individual’s death, where commonly the directives contained in a will would commence.
If something unexpected happened to you, do you have a legally documented plan in place detailing your wishes? Contact The Gierach Law Firm at 630-756-1160 today to consult with our experienced estate planning team in Hoffman Estates, Illinois. You will feel confident knowing you have properly planned for the future of your family and loved ones.