Life-Changing Events That Should Prompt an Update to Your Estate Plan

Illinois estate planning lawyersIf there is one thing you can count on in life, it is that things will change. Some changes are more internal, such as a new passion or career goal. Others are external. The former, though often positive, are likely to have little impact on the future of your estate. In contrast, the latter may require a significant change to your estate plan. Learn more about these changes in the following sections, and how an attorney can help ensure they are effectively addressed.

Re-Marriage and Divorce

Changing your marital status – whether from single to married or married to divorce – will, in most cases, warrant an update to your estate plan. This is especially true in the case of divorce and second, third, or other subsequent marriages. You should not tackle the changes alone, however, since blended families and ex family members can further complicate an already complex process. Instead, ask an attorney for assistance.

Birth and Adoption

The welcoming of a new child is a joyous event, but if you do not change your estate plan, you risk leaving your newest family member out in the cold. This can be especially troublesome if you have an ex-spouse. Further, young children may be at risk for foster placement – even if only temporarily – if you do not appoint a guardian and both you and your spouse pass away unexpectedly. So protect your children and update your estate plan as soon as the birth or adoption has taken place.

Death, Illness, or Injury of an Heir

If one of your heirs becomes ill or seriously injured, you may need to update your estate plan to better reflect the situation. For example, if a child becomes disabled after a car crash, you may want to assign provisions for them to ensure they are properly cared for after your passing. This may mean changing the inheritance of other children or heirs. Death of an heir should also prompt a change since that person can no longer inherit.

Tax Law Changes

While not all tax law changes warrant a change to your estate plan, others certainly do. In fact, some could significantly impact how your estate is taxed or distributed. This is also why it is a good idea to ensure your estate plan is reviewed by an attorney on a regular basis; they can ensure you are taking advantage of the options available to you and your heirs, and that all new tax laws are being considered. If you have questions about your estate plan and how taxes may impact it, contact an experienced estate planning attorney today.

Schedule a Consultation with Our Estate Planning Lawyers

At Stock, Carlson & Duff LLC, we work hard to preserve the best interests of our clients and their heirs. Seasoned and knowledgeable, we can review your estate plan, no matter what changes have occurred in your life, and will ensure you understand your options. Learn more about how our DuPage County estate planning attorneys can assist you. Call 630-665-2500 and schedule a consultation with us today.



Getting Remarried Should Trigger an Update to Your Estate Plan

DuPage County estate planning lawyersLove might have failed you before, but the fact that you are planning on getting remarried proves you have not abandoned all hope. Just do not let that cloud your judgement when it comes to updating your estate plan. Do not have one yet? You are certainly not alone, but this can be problematic for more reasons than one. The following explains further, and provides some guidance on estate planning matters you may want to consider before or immediately after you walk down the aisle.

No Will? You Might Have a Problem

Some blended families just do not blend. Others manage to get along fairly well, but tensions may mount if you pass away without a will. You see, without a will, your estate will be divided up according to Illinois state law. This essentially means that your spouse would receive half of your estate, and that your children would have to split the remaining half. Even more troubling is that this law does not address issues involving family heirlooms or other items you may not want sold. Instead, your family will be left to battle it out, which could take several months, possibly even years. Thankfully, a will can and often does eliminate a great deal of the potential discourse.

Making Updates to an Existing Will

If you already have a will, you are already one step ahead of most. Still, an update is generally necessary when remarrying. Your beneficiaries likely need to be updated to ensure the parties you wish to have inherit your assets and/or tangible property are the ones that are actually listed. You might also want to take a look at your power of attorney and advanced healthcare directives to ensure that the person you want in charge is, in fact, listed.

Also, do not forget to update any life insurance policies and retirement accounts to reflect what is in your will. Otherwise, portions of your will may not matter. For example, if your ex-spouse is still listed as the beneficiary of your life insurance policy, it is likely they will receive the money instead of your current spouse. You should also review any titled assets you may own to avoid conflicts in titling and joint tenancy laws, which can also nullify any wishes expressed in a will.

Contact Our DuPage County Estate Planning Lawyers

If you are getting remarried and need assistance crafting or updating a will, our DuPage County estate planning lawyers can help. Dedicated to ensuring your wishes are carried out upon your death, we have the skills and knowledge needed to creatively address any will or trust issues you and your loved ones may face. Schedule your consultation with Stock, Carlson & Duff LLC to learn more. Call 630-665-2500 today.



The Importance of Estate Planning when Diagnosed with Alzheimer's Disease

Alzheimer's disease IMAGEAccording to the Alzheimer’s Association, Alzheimer's disease is the sixth leading cause of death in the United States.

Currently, there are 5 million people who are 65 years or older suffering from the disease, and another 200,000 younger than 65 who are struggling with early-onset Alzheimer’s. Those numbers will continue to rise as Americans continue to grow older. By 2025, the number of Americans who will be diagnosed with Alzheimer's is predicted to reach over 7 million, and by 2050, that number will reach almost 14 million if no medical cures are found.

The National Institute on Aging, (NIA), recommends a series of steps that a person who has recently been diagnosed with Alzheimer's, or any other serious illness, should take in order to make sure that their wishes are carried out. The organization has broken down the estate planning one should do into two groups – documents outlining the health care wishes of the person and documents outlining the financial wishes.

Advance directives for health care are used when the time comes that the person is no longer capable of making those decisions themselves. A living will outline specifically what the end of life wishes are for that person, and what extent medical personnel should take to sustain life.

There should also be a durable power of attorney drawn up which will appoint someone to be in charge of making medical decisions regarding treatments, providers, hospice, and other decisions that may need to be made that the person suffering from Alzheimer's are able to make. A Do Not Resuscitate (DNR) Order is also another document that should be drawn up.

Decisions about financial and estate planning also should be made while the person is still mentally cognizant and able to do so. A will that specifies how the person's estate and assets will be divided, as well as final arrangements upon death can be stated here.  Appointing a durable power of attorney for finances is also recommended. This person will be able to make the financial decisions and arrangements that may be needed.

Elder law planning should be done with a knowledgeable attorney. Contact an experienced Wheaton estate planning attorney to discuss what options you have for planning for your future.