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Mokena Estate Planning And Probate Blog

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. 

How can I avoid estate planning scams?

An estate plan is crucial to protect both your assets and your family after you're gone. While it's crucial that people in Illinois have a solid estate plan in place, it's also important that you know what to look for when it comes to common scams. Forbes offers the following information, which will help you remain vigilant.

Waiting too long to make a plan is detrimental for a few reasons. Firstly, there's no telling what the future holds and without a plan in place, major decisions about your estate will be left up to the court. Secondly, many scam artists prey on elderly people with no estate plan in place. For those experiencing symptoms of dementia or Alzheimer's, scammers will attempt to garner authority over one's finances, which can lead to devastating results.

How can I protect a loved one from scams?

It's sad to say, but many elderly people are subject to financial scams. In this case, it's crucial for you to protect your loved ones against potential frauds, which can deprive them of money and even impact their estate planning process. AARP offers the following tips, so you can rest assured your family members are safeguarded from the nefarious actions of others.

Make phone numbers unlisted

Is there ever a good time for an irrevocable trust?

As you plan your Illinois estate, you may review your estate planning options and wonder which is best for you and your assets. You have several options, some of which are better than others. One such option is the irrevocable trust. The Motley Fool explores the pros and cons of irrevocable trusts and explains when such an estate planning tool may be right for you.

Irrevocable trusts are precisely what they sound like: trusts that cannot be undone once created. Once you place your assets within them, they are technically no longer yours. There are several types of irrevocable trusts, including a qualified personal residence trust and a grantor retained annuity trust, but the concept of each remains the same: anything you place within the trust is no longer yours to do with as you please. It is the property of the trust until your death, at which point the trustee will distribute the trust's assets in accordance with your wishes.

What happens during the probate process?

If you have recently lost a friend or family member, you may be overwhelmed with emotions of hurt and loss. In addition to those feelings, you may have to help with the process of settling your friend or family member's estate. In some cases, the estate will enter into the probate process. In Illinois and in many other states across the nation, the probate process is designed to assist in finalizing any property and assets left behind by the deceased. Whether named by the deceased in the last will and testament or appointed by the court, the executor or estate administrator is in charge of seeing the case through the probate process.

During probate, the executor gathers important documents, including the will, life insurance policies and death certificate. The executor then gathers the property and assets involved in the estate, including property, vehicles, expensive collections, trust funds, 401k plans and term life insurance policies, and has them appraised to find the estate's value. Certain expenses left behind by the deceased, such as taxes and property bills, may be paid from the estate. The remaining property and assets are then distributed to beneficiaries named in the last will and testament. Throughout the entire process, the executor is responsible for the estate and must ensure nothing happens to the property and assets involved.

What's the difference between a guardian and a conservator?

When an adult is incapable of handling his or her own affairs, the court might step in and appoint another person to do so. This person can take on the role of guardian or conservator, which are two similar designations that still have a few important distinctions. The Balance explains the difference, along with highlighting the essential duties.

Guardians address personal needs

Creating an estate plan to help a child with drug addiction

Sadly, many Americans suffer from drug addiction. In 2014, 21.5 million Americans over the age of 12 had suffered from a drug addiction problem to some capacity. 

When you create an estate plan, you naturally want to leave whatever money you have to your loved ones. However, you may be wary of leaving behind money to a child you know has a problem with drugs. Receiving such a large amount of money all at once can lead to problems if the child does not know how to be responsible. You do not want to cause more harm than good with the inheritance. There are steps you can take to protect your children from making poor decisions. 

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