Establishing and Administering a Charitable Trust

Estate planning is a fairly new concept. It used to be that parents did not think twice about leaving everything to their children. Today, however, with the advent of charitable giving and changing family norms, people have more options to consider when writing their wills. If you choose to make “nontraditional” bequests – or, more […]

How to Proceed in Probate When the Life Status of the “Decedent” is Unknown

Nine years after Samuel Zagaria disappeared, his sister Joanne petitioned the Cook County probate court for a presumption of death. The court complied and appointed Joanne, Zagaria’s only heir, the administrator of her brother’s estate. But in the course of administering the estate and trying to collect insurance benefits, Samuel turned up alive. Unfortunately for […]

Planning in Advance: Express Your End of Life Wishes in a Living Will

Death can be an uncomfortable subject of conversation. But it is also a universal fact of life. It is far better to plan for that eventuality in advance and do everything possible to prepare our loved ones, than to force emotional decisions when the moment finally arrives.  Bud Hammes agrees with that. He works as […]

Providing for Children Born After Your Will Has Been Executed

Philip Seymour Hoffman will be remembered as a talented actor and, sadly, for the tragic way that he died. But his sudden death shines a light on more than the dangers of illegal drug use. It also reminds us of the importance of planning ahead to provide for our families. In 2004, Hoffman executed a […]

Illinois Appellate Court: It is Unconstitutional to Tax a Trust with No Current Connection to the State

In 1961, an Illinois resident established a  living trust. The trust property was located in Illinois, and the trustee – the person managing the trust – and beneficiary – the person benefiting from the trust – were also Illinois residents. Given these connections to Illinois, state law clearly governed the trust. But the trust also […]

US Tax Code Information

In the U.S. tax code, there is a special provision regarding monetary gifts, and how much you can gift to someone without having to pay taxes. According to the Internal Revenue Service (IRS), “any transfer to an individual, either directly or indirectly, where full consideration (measured in money or money’s worth) is not received in […]

New Higher Estate Tax Exclusions for 2014

An important part of estate planning is gifting.  The benefits include transferring assets to beneficiaries tax-free.  It also allows the guarantors to see their gifts being enjoyed by their family members and friends.  In 2014, the amount that people can transfer or gift while still avoiding taxes will be increased. With data from the Consumer […]

The Trouble with Prepaid Funerals

In the interest of making things easy for their future beneficiaries, many elderly plan for death by orchestrating a prepaid funeral. It seems, from the outside, a great idea: “when I finally go, my family won’t have to worry about any costs to lay me to rest—I can plan it on my own terms, with […]

DIY Estate Planning?

In the age of the Internet and easy access to technologies that were in the past reserved for specific professions, it’s tempting to take on tasks you’d originally divvy out to professionals and handle them yourself. Yet the age of the Internet comes with many paradoxes—while things may seem easier, the ease can often lead […]

Different Types of Fiduciaries

Beginning to plan one’s estate isn’t an easy task, and can be a dim reminder of mortality. Many people put off estate planning until they’re at the end of the road, which works in some cases, but can sometimes leave the person’s family straddled with an unmanageable tax burden, debt, or, at the very least, […]