When Celebrities Die Without a Will, Americans Get Serious About Estate Planning

DuPage County estate planning attorneysEstimates indicate that just 64 percent of all Americans have a will. That number drops significantly, falling to 22 percent, in the 55 and younger population. Yet, when the fortunes of big celebrities are thrown into limbo because they failed to make an estate plan, Americans start to get serious about their own fortunes. Of course, not everyone has an actual fortune, but that does not mean you do not need an estate plan. The following covers some important lessons learned from celebrities who died without a will, and will hopefully help you understand the importance of having one in place for your estate.

Probate Costs and Taxes Can Significantly Reduce the Value of Your Estate

Whether you are a multibillionaire, a pop music idol, or just your average American, your estate may be subject to probate if you pass away without a will in place. This can get expensive, and fast. As an example, Prince's estate, which is currently valued at about $300 million has already racked up more than two million in attorney's fees. On top of that, there will be state and federal taxes to pay, which are often higher when you fail to create an estate plan. If you have even a meager estate, reduce the risk of its depletion in probate with an estate plan.

Your Children Could Be Left Living in Limbo

If you have minor children and do not have an estate plan, your children could be left living in a sort of custodial limbo until a determination can be made by the courts. In the meantime, they could be placed in foster care or with a family member. In respect to the permanent guardian of your children, any family member can come forward and petition for custody of your children and their estate. Of course, the court will make every effort to ensure your children are safe and cared for, but the final determination may not be one you would have chosen.

The minor children of Michael Jackson, who was originally thought to have died without a will, might have faced a similar situation. Thankfully, his will did surface. It named both a permanent guardian and a successor guardian, should there ever be a need for one.

Adult Children, Spouses, and Other Heirs Are Left to Battle It Out

Probably the most heartbreaking consequence of an estate with no will is the effect it has on the family you love. Left to battle it out, and sometimes forced to take their issues to court, spouses, children, and other heirs may spend weeks, months, years, at war over who gets what. In some cases, the battle gets so heated that the bonds are forever strained or destroyed. Even if you only have sentimental property to divide, consider a will to protect your family from this fate.

Contact Our DuPage County Estate Planning Attorneys

Whatever your estate planning needs – be it to ensure your estate is divided the way you see fit, to reduce the risk of fighting, to protect your assets from depletion, or to simply ensure your children go to the person you feel is right – the law firm of Stock, Carlson & Duff LLC can help. Get the experienced assistance you deserve. Call 630-665-2500 and schedule your initial consultation with our DuPage County estate planning lawyers today.







Estate Planning for Twenty-Somethings

estate planning for twenty-somethings, Illinois Estate Planning LawyerThere is a great misconception that estate planning is only applicable to older individuals who are nearing retirement or are already retired. The reality is, however, that adults are never too young to put some sort of estate plan in place. Obviously, the more assets and property you acquire may make planning more complicated. Still, even twenty-somethings should have certain documents in place—at the very minimum.

Health Care Advance Directives and Health Care Powers of Attorney

Most young adults do not ever consider what would happen to them if they suddenly became sick or incapacitated. Moreover, they are unaware that no one—not their parents, siblings, or other family members—would be legally able to make medical or health care decisions should they be unable to make those decisions for themselves. Having an advance directive in place could avoid the possible fracture that often occurs in families when they cannot agree on the same course of medical care. This is exactly what happened in the case of Terri Schiavo, who was only 26-years-old when she collapsed and went into coma with irreversible brain damage. A 15 year legal battle between Terri's husband and her parents waged over the course of medical treatment Teri would have wanted.

Financial Powers of Attorney

Naming someone as a financial power of attorney ensures that one’s financial assets and obligations will be taken care of in the event he or she is unable to do so. With no such documentation in place, a family may be forced to petition the court for guardianship or conservatorship, which can be both costly and time consuming.


If a person passes away without a will, then the state makes the decision regarding who will obtain his or her assets. A person does not have to have a large amount of assets or real estate in order to draw up a will—even twenty-somethings own furniture, household items, vehicles, checking accounts, saving accounts, savings bonds, etc. A will ensures that your items are given to those individuals of whom you want to receive them.

Beneficiary Designations

If a young person has taken advantage of his or her employer's 401(k) plan or group life insurance plan, he or she needs to choose who the beneficiary or beneficiaries will be for those items. It is common for young people to overlook filling out the forms their employer provides to make those choices.

Consult with an Illinois Estate Planning Attorney Today

No matter what age group you fall in, it is important to have a solid estate plan in place to ensure that your wishes are met. Contact an experienced DuPage County estate planning attorney today to review your best legal options.

The Revocable Trust: A Popular Alternative to the Traditional Will

revocable trust, Illinois estate planning attorneyThe American Association of Retired People, or AARP, has been instrumental in serving as an informative advocate for those near retirement age since 1958. The brainchild of retired high school principal, Dr. Ethel Percy Andrus, AARP was organized to promote a productive aging philosophy by keeping those broaching retirement abreast of emerging trends and practices. In fact, an AARP bulletin recently discussed the growing trend of choosing a revocable trust over a will.

To determine whether a trust or a will is in one’s best interest, the first step is to speak with both an experienced estate planning attorney and trusted financial advisor. However, before consulting with either professional, AARP offers the following information as to why establishing a revocable trust may work for you.

What Exactly is a Revocable Trust?

A revocable trust is a written document, establishing an appointed family member or friend who will be fully responsible for managing one's property and assets. As a "living" document, a revocable trust is drafted while the creator is still alive and remains revocable as long as the creator is mentally competent. Moreover, the creator has the right to discontinue the directives at anytime.

In death, however, the document becomes an irrevocable trust—the terms generally can not be changed or disputed in probate court. This type of trust involves three parties: the creator, the trustee or trustees who are in agreement to follow through on the creator's directives, and the beneficiaries. Importantly, AARP notes, "You will probably want to name yourself and your spouse as trustees, because you want full control of the property while you’re alive."

Although both a will and trust pertain to a person's inheritance directives, the revocable trust is gaining popularity because of the desire for privacy and avoiding the traditional terrors and transparency of the probate process. Also, for those who select this option, a trust offers the benefit of declaring specific directives before and following death.

Consult an Experienced Illinois Estate Planning Attorney

Working with an established estate planing attorney to devise a revocable trust can bring solace to both the creator and his or her family without the high cost of probate. Additionally, a well-drafted trust can serve as power of attorney, leaving open the directives of how all assets will be distributed. Tax savings clauses can also reduce state and federal estate taxes.

If you are ready to discuss the establishment of your will or revocable trust, the qualified Wheaton, Illinois estate planning attorneys of Stock, Carlson, Flynn & McGrath, LLC are standing by to discuss your estate directives when you are ready. Contact us at 630-665-2500 today.