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Mokena Estate Planning And Probate Blog

Powers of attorney in Illinois

Many people may associate incapacitation with dementia and other mental health issues more likely to affect the elderly. However, a stroke often renders people unable to conduct their own affairs. In fact, according to the American Heart Association, it is the number one reason Americans suffer serious, long-term disabilities.

The good news is that you can protect yourself from the effects of stroke. A health care provider can give you advice on ways to stay healthy; an estate planning attorney can help you prepare for the worst by designating powers of attorney through the guidelines of the Illinois Power of Attorney Act.

Misconceptions about property ownership and estate planning

You may have heard that there are a variety of ways to leave your estate to your heirs so that you protect your assets from taxes and probate. Many of these hinge on whose name is on the title or account. Choosing the right type of ownership for your circumstances is essential, but keep in mind that what is "common knowledge" may be a misconception.

This estate planning video explains the four types of ownership in Illinois. Here are some factors to consider about each one before you create an estate plan.

What is a will contest?

If you are an Illinois resident who has been disinherited by a family member or otherwise are dissatisfied with the provision of someone’s will, you can challenge the authenticity of the will in court. This is called a will contest. As FindLaw explains, however, contesting a will is rarely successful. Up to 99 percent of American wills go through probate with no problems and no challenges.

Nevertheless, if you are the surviving spouse of the testator (i.e., the person who made the will), you have a better chance of successfully contesting the provisions of your spouse’s will with which you take issue. Likewise, if you are a close relative of the testator, such as a biological or adopted child, a parent, or a sibling, your chances of mounting a successful will challenge are increased.

Can I become guardian of my sister?

If your sister needs a guardian in Illinois to help her get through her day-to-day living, it may be possible for you to take on that role. There are many kinds of guardianships, so to have best chances of securing the appointed you will want to tailor your request accordingly.

The Illinois Probate Act provides for the several types of guardianship.

Early signs of dementia

Elderly people in Illinois who are facing the early stages of dementia may need intervention from family members to make major decisions. According to the Mayo Clinic, not all forms of dementia are permanent, but progressive dementia, such as Alzheimer's, typically increases in severity until it obliterates virtually all of a person's memory. In these cases, family members may need to establish a guardianship in order to make decisions on their loved one's behalf when he or she is no longer able to do so independently. However, in order to be adequately prepared, those family members should know the warning signs of this condition.

Healthline states that the earliest signs of dementia include minor memory loss. This could manifest itself by the inability to retain simple instructions, or forgetting well-known directions and common words. Since short term memory is often the target of early dementia, the victim may remember facts from years ago, but be unable to recall events that occurred only hours before.

Planning the future of your family business

Throughout the estate planning process in Illinois, one of your greatest assets is likely your family business. It may be wise to plan out who your successor will be long before you foresee the need for one. That way, you have control over the decisions-making process, and you have time to research the best options for your family and your business. Here at Zapolis & Associates PC, we understand how valuable family businesses are, and we seek to reach the best possible arrangement for all parties involved.

According to Merrill Lynch, one of the first steps to take when determining the future of your company is to assess your financial needs and the company's worth. If the business cannot function without your regular, active involvement, it may not hold much value to a potential buyer, even your children. However, if it is independently sustainable, you may wish to bring in an assessor to determine its worth. You should also know how much annual income you will need to live once the business is no longer in your hands. Do not forget about benefits you may have received in addition to your salary, such as insurance and similar perks.

3 weird title problems real estate professionals face

As someone in the real estate industry, you know that listing a property is usually fairly straightforward. Most of the time, you simply meet with the owners, negotiate with them and draft a listing agreement. Representing the owners throughout the listing process is generally easy. 

However, there are problems that may arise that muddy the waters and make things complicated. Read below for unusual title issues real estate professionals face. 

The differences between a trust and a will

When you begin to create your estate plan in Illinois, you may wonder about the differences between a trust and a will. At Zapolis and Associates, P.C., we understand that it is important to understand these differences so you can put together the best estate plan for you and your family.

On the surface, trusts and wills seem very similar. Your particular situation determines which option is best for you. One important difference is that a trust usually does not go through probate before the assets are divided. Wills are typically required to go through probate to discuss any challenges to the will, as well as for the division of the assets. One of the benefits of a trust is that your beneficiaries generally receive the assets immediately after your death and the cost of probate is not taken from your assets. This can be beneficial if you want your estate to help support your spouse and children.

Are no-contest clauses enforceable in Illinois?

While it might be easy for many in Mokena to dismiss those who contest the estate decisions of their loved ones as simply being petty or motivated by greed, it should be remembered that a good deal of emotion goes into the disbursement of an estate. When you lose someone close to you, your grief can easily be compounded if it appears that his or her true wishes are not expressed in his or her will. That may lead to questions as to whether or not another beneficiary (likely also someone you share a relationship with) might have attempted to exploit your family member or friend for financial gain. If such doubt does exist, can you be blamed for wanting to contest the will

Sometimes those looking to avoid disputes amongst their beneficiaries will include no-contest clauses in their wills. Such an amendment basically says that if you attempt to contest the validity of the will, you risk being disinherited. The obvious thought is that the fear of losing whatever interest that you do have in an estate will keep you from questioning a will. Yet are such clauses truly enforceable?

What does estate planning mean for you?

Estate planning may not be the first thing you think about when you wake up each morning. Especially if you are younger and do not currently have pressing obligations to care for dependents. However, your decision to begin planning your estate in Illinois before it is too late can make a world of difference in assuring that things are arranged exactly as you would want if something were to happen to you. It can also eliminate a lot of the stress, contention and financial strain of your family members who may be left to sort through your life.

The process of estate planning requires a lot of time and thought and can entail many different steps and components. According to U.S. News, there are several important tips to remember as you begin planning your estate. These include the following:

  • Find an executor: This person will play a critical role in seeing that your will is carried out the way you have specified. This person can be a trusted friend, family member or acquaintance.
  • State guardianship of minors: If you have dependents that you care for, it is imperative that you arrange guardianship in case something happens to you. This will guarantee that the people you are most comfortable with caring for your children, will be given immediate custody instead of someone chosen at random.
  • Power of attorney: This can apply in a couple of different cases including your finances and medical wishes. This gives someone you trust the right to make decisions regarding your medical treatment and use of finances in situations where you may be unable to do so on your own.
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Zapolis & Associates, P.C.
9991 191st Street
Mokena, IL 60448

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