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Mokena Estate Planning And Probate Blog

Caring for an aging parent in Illinois

As an adult child, you may take on the responsibility of caring for your aging parent or parents. Unfortunately, the time may come when, due to dementia, Alzheimer's or other such ailments, they can no longer care or make decisions for themselves. We at Zapolis & Associates PC understand the complexities associated with taking care of an elderly family member in Illinois, and have helped many adult children obtain the legal authority to ensure their parents' well-being.

The Illinois Guardianship and Advocacy Commission points out that age, mental illness, or developmental or physical disability alone do not warrant the need for a guardianship. Rather, the court may only take this drastic step if, as a result of such factors, your parent can no longer make and express responsible choices regarding his or her care and finances.

Understanding testamentary trusts

At Zapolis & Associates, PC, we help many Illinois people with their estate planning needs. Usually, depending on what they wish to accomplish, they begin with a last will and testament, followed by one or more revocable or irrevocable trusts. But for some of our clients, creating separate trusts is not absolutely vital. Instead, they can set up one or more testamentary trusts as part of their will.

A testamentary trust is similar to, but different than, a living trust. During your lifetime you can change or revoke either type of trust whenever you wish to do so after setting it up. The difference is when these trusts take effect. explains that whereas your living trusts take effect as soon as you establish them, your testamentary trust(s) take effect upon your death.

What steps can I take to contest a will?

A valid estate plan expresses the wishes of the deceased in terms of property and assets. However, families in Illinois sometimes find fault with the contents of a will, and as a result they may choose to contest it. This is a time-consuming and expensive process, so before proceeding it's best to understand all that's involved.

According to The Balance, only certain people are able to contest a will. For instance, if you were named as a beneficiary or an executor in a prior will and struck from the most recent iteration, you have legal standing. Eligible heirs not included within a will are also able to initiate a lawsuit. Eligible heirs are spouses, children, and then parents, siblings, and other relatives.

How a charitable trust lets you give back

If you receive great pleasure from giving back to your Illinois community, you may wish to consider setting up one or more charitable trusts to allow you to donate on a more structured basis. Charitable trusts can form the cornerstones of well thought out estate plans and can benefit you as much as they benefit the charities you choose.

Keep in mind that just because you set up a charitable trust does not mean that its beneficiary must be an actual charity. It can benefit your church, your alma mater, a museum, an animal shelter, a hospital, a dance company, etc., as well as a recognized charitable organization such as one doing ongoing cancer research, providing food or shelter to the disadvantaged, etc. You designate this entity as your trust’s charitable beneficiary. However, you can also designate one or more noncharitable beneficiaries as well, including yourself.

Understanding incentive trusts

As a reasonably well-to-do Illinois resident, you likely have your years of hard work and your sound money management to thank for the wealth you have accumulated. Naturally you want to pass on that wealth to your children and grandchildren, but you may hesitate to do so by means of your will and/or the common types of trusts with which most people are familiar.

For instance, what if one or more of your children or grandchildren has shown that (s)he does not handle money well? Or what if you want to leave all of them enough so that they can choose what they want to do with their lives, but not so much that they may choose to do nothing at all? If you have these or other concerns about your children and/or grandchildren, setting up incentive trusts for them could be just the answer.

Who can contest a will?

In Illinois, not just anyone is able to challenge or contest a will. However, certain groups of people or individuals can, as long as they fit the right criteria. Though they have a timeframe in which to act, it is important for anyone dealing with wills to know about the possibility.

According to FindLaw, only "interested persons" are legally allowed to challenge a will. Furthermore, they are only allowed to challenge for valid legal reasons, which we will take a deeper look into next. Interested persons are defined as:

  • Heirs
  • Children
  • Devisees
  • Spouses
  • Creditors

Why are some trusts not funded?

It sounds like a scenario from a nightmare. Your children are ready to gain access to the assets in your trust after you die, only to discover that the trust is empty. That means the assets you intended to pass on to your children without a problem will instead go through probate. To avoid having this nightmare occur, Illinois residents should be aware of the steps they must take when they form their trusts.

Forbes Magazine explains the problem in a nutshell. Some people may think their work is finished when they secure their trust agreement. They put their documents away, confident that there is nothing more to be accomplished. However, all they have done is set up the trust. They have not filled it with any assets. The trust does not legally own any assets until the assets are legally signed over to it.

What are some tips for grandparents raising grandchildren?

For various reasons, grandparents may end up with custody of their grandchildren. It can be a challenge to transition back into a parental role, especially for older people. offers the following tips to ensure grandparents can care for kids while also properly caring for themselves.

Be honest about the situation

3 methods of reducing estate tax

When you put together an estate plan, odds are, one of your goals is to leave as much of your legacy behind for your family and loved ones as you possibly can. Regrettably, however, estate taxes, or the taxes assessed against an heir’s inherited amount from an estate, can eat up a substantial portion of what you wish to leave behind.

There are several steps you can take during estate planning that can help reduce how much your loved ones must pay in estate taxes. Thus, if minimizing estate taxes is one of your estate planning goals, here are some things to consider.

The negative effects of domestic violence on children

When children in Illinois are part of a family where there is domestic violence, they are undoubtedly affected in ways that could influence how they respond and react to certain triggers for the remainder of their lives. Understanding the negative effects of such violence on children is critical to realize the dire need of getting them help before it is too late. 

According to The National Child Traumatic Stress Network, children who witness violence or are unbeknownst to others, victims, are often silent sufferers of an epidemic that is a significant problem in many families. Children who experience violence in their home may also be the victims of neglect or abuse from their peers as well. Abuse can take on many forms including physical injuries and emotional trauma. 

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Zapolis & Associates, P.C.
9991 191st Street
Mokena, IL 60448

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