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Mokena Estate Planning And Probate Blog

Is it a good idea to disinherit a child?

In Illinois, the process of planning for your estate after you die is an important one. You can never know when death is coming and caring for your spouse, children and other beneficiaries should be at the top of your list. Unfortunately, there are times when a parent is struggling with a child and concerned about them receiving their part of the estate. In this situation, is it a good idea to disinherit the child?

One thing to remember as you consider disinheriting your child is that this is not a way to control their behavior. If you are unhappy with the way they are living their life, an inheritance should not be used to change that. It is likely that once they receive the money they will go right back to their previous ways and doing this can cause serious friction and tension between family members.

What are the signs of undue influence?

Undue influence refers to the act of one person inducing another to act in a way in which the victim would not have acted had he or she been acting of his or her own free will. Typically, the victim does not fully understand the consequences of his or her actions. Sadly, undue influence over disabled and elderly individuals is a pervasive problem in Illinois and throughout the U.S., especially as an aging person prepares to transition large sums of wealth via an estate plan. You can help protect your elderly loved one, yourself and other beneficiaries by recognizing the signs of undue influence.

Elder Protection Center outlines 12 signs of undue influence, some of which are more obvious than others. One common sign of this type of activity is the existence of estate-planning documents that name non-family members as beneficiaries or fiduciaries. Another sign includes actions by your loved one's fiduciary that reflect poor judgment or pose a conflict of interest.

Is my work done after I have set up a trust?

Finishing the paperwork that establishes your trust in Illinois can be a satisfying feeling. You likely feel that you have ensured your children or any heirs you have designated will receive their inheritance. However, the fact is you have to maintain your trust to make sure it functions as you intend. Simply leaving your trust alone is a mistake. In fact, your trust may not even pay out to its beneficiaries if you neglect it.

Per CNBC, sometimes a trust creator will set up a trust but will not fill the trust with the intended assets. Some trusts are actually not funded because the trust creator simply forgets to perform this action. To ensure that the trust is actually funded, trust creators need to retitle their accounts in their name of their trust. This can be performed with the assistance of a financial planner.

3 myths you may believe about durable powers of attorney

Planning for the last few years of your life may be uncomfortable. After all, you prefer to focus on life rather than death. Still, if you are no longer able to make important decisions, you likely want to retain some control over your medical care. Creating a durable power of attorney may help to put your mind at ease. 

Put simply, a power of attorney allows you to name a person to make decisions on your behalf.  A durable one kicks in when you become incapacitated due to an illness or injury. If drafting a durable power of attorney makes you feel anxious, you may believe some things about these arrangements that are untrue. Here are three common myths about durable powers of attorney: 

Can you benefit from an estate plan?

In Illinois, there is a bit of a misunderstanding of estate plans. Many young or middle-aged people look at them in the same way one might look at retirement - something distant that you don't yet have to worry about. Today, we at Zapolis & Associates, P.C., will help expand your knowledge on estate plans and understand how they can fit into your life at any age.

First and foremost, an estate plan is a tool that you can use to ensure that your wishes are met after you are no longer able to ensure that firsthand. While most people think of incapacitation or passing away as something to worry about much later in life, the fact of the matter is that no one knows what life holds in store. Sudden accidents can easily rob you of your ability to speak for yourself. How will you protect your family business if you cannot voice what you want for it?

Things to keep in mind when creating a will

Drafting a last will and testament is not a simple process. In fact, making the decisions involved in your will and planning your estate can be extremely overwhelming. Once you have determined all of the property and assets that are included in your estate, there are several other factors that must be considered when creating a comprehensive will and organizing your estate.

Appointing a responsible estate administrator may be one of the most important decisions involved in organizing the estate. The administrator will ensure the requests in the last will and testament are carried out according to your wishes. He or she will also be responsible for seeing the case through probate if necessary.

What are beneficiary designations?

Depending on your assets, estate planning can take on many forms. When it comes to things like life insurance policies and retirement accounts, beneficiary designations are an important consideration. The Balance explains what you need to know to prevent your estate from going into probate.

Even if you have a will in place, the information on your individual accounts will override your final wishes. As a result, it's important to update beneficiary designations when you review your other estate planning documents. If you leave outdated information on your accounts, it could lead to your final wishes for your estate being ignored. That's why it's recommended that you review all documents after a major life change such as a new marriage or birth.

Protect your pets’ future with a pet trust

You understand that estate planning is important to protect your assets and your loved ones’ inheritance. Like many Illinois residents, your pets are like your family members. However, because pets cannot inherit property, you would not be able to leave money to Fluffy or Rufus in your will. How, then, do you ensure your furry family members are provided for if you die before they do?

A simple answer is to leave your pets to one of your beneficiaries. However, as you may know, bequeathing something precious to you is often more complex than just writing it onto a piece of paper. Your cat may have health issues requiring medication, a special diet and regular veterinarian visits. You may just wish for your dogs to get enough exercise and to only eat a certain brand of organic dog food, not just what is cheapest at the grocery store. Understandably, you may worry that the person taking over the care of your pets will not invest as much time and love into their care as you do, or that they would not have the funds for their special medical and dietary needs.

My adult child is an addict, now what?

Estate planning in Illinois can be difficult on its own, but it's even more so when you have an adult child who is an addict. While you want to provide for your child after you're gone, you naturally don't want to contribute to a damaging and life-threatening habit. As opioid addiction rates rise around the country, MarketWatch offers the following advice to elderly estate planners faced with addiction in their families.

If you provide an inheritance to your adult child using conventional methods, you run the risk of the inheritance being squandered. In the worst-case scenario, a large influx of money may even cause loss of life, health issues, or legal repercussions which can be extremely damaging. Conversely, leaving a loved one out of your will altogether may feel like abandonment to the person with the addiction, which can make the problem even worse.

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Zapolis & Associates, P.C.
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Mokena, IL 60448

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