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Mokena Estate Planning And Probate Blog

Passing your wealth to beneficiaries with guidelines

If you are fortunate enough to leave an inheritance of any size to your children in Illinois, you may decide to ensure they do not squander it. If it contains significant assets, proper preparation requires more than a will. The estate planning process offers tools that ensure that you can continue providing for your beneficiaries after you pass away. At Zapolis & Associates, we often help clients create trusts that help them pass wealth to their heirs in the most beneficial way possible.

According to Kiplinger, spendthrift trusts can protect assets from misuse. Beneficiaries in the following situations are among the most common reasons for establishing these trusts:

  • Financial immaturity
  • Addiction issues
  • Unhealthy relationships
  • Too young

Probate, beneficiaries and emotions

The probate process can present a number of hurdles for families to work through, and these issues can be especially tough after a loved one has passed on. In this post, we will look beyond the legal and financial impact of the probate process and examine the emotional side of this topic. Specifically, the emotional impact of the probate process from a beneficiary’s point of view. Whether you are in charge of your loved one’s estate plan and have to deal with disgruntled beneficiaries or you are a beneficiary yourself, it is important to understand this side of probate.

First of all, losing a family member can be extremely tough, and many beneficiaries find themselves struggling with difficult emotions after their loved one’s death. Confusion, jealousy and even anger can all come into play during the probate process, and these emotions can be especially tense because of the underlying emotional pain of a loved one passing away. Sibling rivalries and bitter disputes are not uncommon during probate, and some people may decide to take further action (such as claiming that assets are not being distributed to beneficiaries properly).

How do you fund a trust?

Trusts are essential estate planning tools, ones that can help you avoid probate. However, in order for your trust to be effective, it must also be appropriately funded. According to The Balance, different types of trusts are funded differently. 

Beneficiary designations are attached to assets like life insurance policies and retirement accounts, including employer-provided 401(k)s. In many cases, designations list who you intend to receive the proceeds of the asset after you're gone. With a trust, the beneficiary designation should read the name of the trust, the trustees under the trust, as well as any successor trustees listed. Keep in mind that beneficiary designations override any other estate planning tools. That means if you set up a trust but fail to change the designations, the court will distribute your assets to whoever is named on the asset. 

How can I choose a nursing home for a loved one?

If you have an elderly loved one in your care, there may come a time when placement in a nursing home is the best option for everyone. While this decision is extremely difficult, it's important that you choose a skilled and caring facility capable of addressing your family member's specific needs and medical issues. The National Institute on Aging offers the following advice on how you can make the best possible decision. 

The first step may be to confer with your loved one's primary care physician. A doctor will likely have a list of nursing homes in the local area and will be able to provide insight into which ones are best suited to your relative's needs. You can also seek out referrals from other people in your life. Ask friends and family with elderly relatives for their recommendations, as you're more likely to get an honest perspective from people close to you. 

3 ways to avoid probate when drafting an estate plan

Creating an estate plan is something Illinois residents should focus on, especially when there is a business involved. Having a plan in place for how your assets, debts and business divide upon your death may stop infighting between heirs.

Drafting an estate plan requires intense thought and an eye toward how you want to pass your legacy on to your family. One thing you can do to make the aftermath of your death easier on them is to create a plan that avoids the probate process, if possible. These three tools may help keep your heirs from having to endure the sometimes-lengthy probate route.

Business succession planning is a process

Transferring a business to family members can be both rewarding and stressful for Illinois small business owners. For it to be successful, succession planning is more a process than an event. At Zapolis & Associates, P.C., we often assist business owners in determining who should inherit the business while maintaining family harmony.

According to Kiplinger, identifying a successor is a critical first step in the succession planning process.  If you want to leave the business to a family member, talk with him or her about it. Find out if they want the responsibility and have the interest. Some heirs are uninterested while others have committed to another career. For families in which there are several siblings, nephews, nieces and cousins, it may take time to narrow down the best candidate.

Avoid probate litigation with a beneficiary deed

If you have a family home in Illinois and several potential heirs, you may want to make arrangements before you die to keep it out of probate. For parents who have several children, this may cause a contentious situation once they have passed away. At Zapolis & Associates, P.C., we often assist clients in the probate and administration process.

According to Wiling, Illinois is one of the states that allow transfer on death deeds, also known as a beneficiary deed. This estate planning option is a way to keep real estate out of probate, which can be a long, costly process. Property not held in any particular estate planning instrument, such as a trust, must go through the courts. You can turn a home, vacation cottage or any piece of real estate into nonprobate property at any time with a beneficiary deed. You can also cancel or change it, as it only goes into effect upon your death.

Build your legacy for future generations

Adding a trust to your Illinois will can help you control your estate and pass it on to the beneficiaries of your choice. For individuals with significant assets, this financial tool can help protect their wealth for generations. At Zapolis & Associates, we often assist clients in the preparation of trusts, wills and other estate planning tools.

According to Fidelity Investments, there are many types of trusts. Depending on your goals, there may be one or more that meet your needs best. One of the most powerful benefits of these asset protection vehicles is the ability to avoid probate. This process can be costly and delay your heirs' access to your wealth. In addition, probate is public, which can result in unwanted transparency of the proceedings.

Estate planning and mental disorders

There is a myriad of issues that people have to consider when creating an estate plan, and nobody is in the exact same situation. For some people, such as those who struggle with a mental disorder, the estate planning process can be especially complex. Moreover, those who have loved ones who struggle with mental disorders and intend to give them inheritance may have additional considerations to look into while creating their estate plan.

From post-traumatic stress disorder to chronic depression and schizophrenia, there are many different mental disorders that can affect someone's ability to create a good estate plan. If you are struggling with a mental disorder, it is important to approach your circumstances carefully and ensure that you have done all you can to protect your estate. On the other hand, if you have a child or another relative who struggles with a mental illness, you may be worried about listing them as a beneficiary. After all, you could be worried about them recklessly spending all of their inheritance or running into some other problem as a result of inheritance.

How do you transfer an Illinois guardianship to another state?

For one reason or another, it may be necessary to transfer your guardianship to another state. Perhaps you must make the move, or perhaps it is your ward's wish to relocate. In either case, you cannot just pick up and go without first taking legal steps to transfer your guardianship to the new location. According to the Illinois General Assembly, this usually involves a petition to the court. However, there may be instances in which the court itself initiates the motion. 

Regardless of who files the petition, the court will then convene a hearing. You will have to establish that you have reasonable and sufficient plans in place for care and services for your ward after the transfer and that there is a reasonable expectation that your ward will relocate to the new state if not already there. If there is any objection to the transfer, the court will consider whether the objector has established that the transfer would not be in your ward's interests. 

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

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