What You Should Know About Wills and Living Trusts

Illinois estate planning attorney, Illinois will lawyer, IL trust attorney, The process of estate planning can be challenging, depending on the size and complexity of your estate and what you want done with your assets upon your death. Proper estate planning requires a level of knowledge of the various tools, methods, and strategies that are often employed. For example, it is important to understand the differences between a will and a living trust and how those differences could affect your heirs. It is also a good idea to work closely with a qualified lawyer who can provide assistance in meeting your estate planning needs.

What Is a Will?

At its most basic, a will is a legal document that allows you to specify how your assets and possessions are to be distributed. A will can also name a legal guardian for any minor children. An important characteristic of a will is that it is a revocable and amendable document that you can control until your death. It can be updated, altered, or changed to accommodate changing situations, such as the death of an heir or divorce. Keep in mind, however, that there are some major limitations with a will—particularly when it comes to the amount of control you have over your estate after your death. The tax consequences for your heirs may also be significant if your estate plan consists only of a will.

What Is a Living Trust?

Living trusts are generally more complex than wills are, but they offer you more control over your estate after death. A living trust also gives you more control over how your estate is structured prior to your death. For example, you can be the trustee of your own estate and then plan for a successor after death or incapacitation, or you can simply name another individual as the trustee from the start. Like a will, a revocable living trust can be amended, updated, or revoked for as long as the creator of the trust is alive.

Compared to a will, a living trust also provides more privacy regarding the disbursement of your estate, and, in the case of larger estates, it can reduce the tax load for your heirs. Keep in mind, however, that living trusts must be properly funded, and they can be more expensive to set up initially. Still, for those with large, complex, or potentially problematic estates, the cost of a living trust may be well worth the peace of mind the trust can provide.

Contact a Wheaton Wills and Trusts Lawyer

If you have questions about wills, trusts, or any other estate planning tool, the team at Stock, Carlson & Duff LLC is ready and willing to help you. Call 630-665-2500 to schedule a confidential consultation with one of our experienced DuPage County estate planning attorneys today. We will work with you in finding the answers you need and the security you and your family deserve.

 

Source:

https://www.ilga.gov/legislation/ilcs/ilcs5.asp?ActID=2104&ChapterID=60

https://www.ilga.gov/legislation/ilcs/ilcs5.asp?ActID=4001&ChapterID=61

Should I Use a Revocable Living Trust or an Irrevocable Living Trust?

IL estate planning lawyer, Illinois trust attorneyAlthough many people assume that a last will and testament is the only estate planning tool that they need, a will is not always the best way to accomplish all of your estate planning goals. Other estate tools such as living trusts are often overlooked due to confusion or misunderstandings about the purpose of these tools. A trust is a legally binding agreement involving an individual or entity called a trustee who holds property for the benefit of a beneficiary. A living trust is an advantageous tool for managing your assets during your lifetime and then passing those assets to beneficiaries upon your death. If you are interested in using a living trust to manage your assets, you may question whether you should use a revocable living trust or an irrevocable living trust.

Revocable Trusts

As the name implies, a revocable trust is one that is able to be revoked or canceled. If you place assets in a revocable trust, you remain in control of those assets. You are also considered to be the owner of those assets in the eyes of the Internal Revenue Service and other governmental agencies. Because the property is yours, you can choose to remove the property from the trust and use it for other purposes at any time. A revocable living trust covers you while you are alive, in the event that you are incapacitated by illness or injury, and after you pass away. One of the greatest benefits of a revocable living trust is that it avoids probate– the public legal process during which a will is validated in court. Because you remain the owner of the property placed in a revocable trust, transferring property to a revocable trust does not affect your federal income taxes or estate income.

Irrevocable Trusts

An irrevocable trust is not able to be withdrawn. When you transfer assets to an irrevocable trust, you no longer own the assets or have control over them. The trust itself becomes the owner of the property. This means that you cannot take the assets out of the trust. Because you are not the owner of the assets in an irrevocable trust, you cannot be taxed on them. However, you can continue to gain revenue on investments from the trust. Depending on your net worth and overall estate planning goals, there may be enormous tax benefits to placing assets in an irrevocable trust. Using an irrevocable trust may also help shield your assets from any future creditors.

Contact a Wheaton Trust Lawyer

Assets placed within a revocable trust may be withdrawn at any time while assets in an irrevocable trust are no longer considered your property. There are advantages and disadvantages to both irrevocable and revocable trusts. If you want to learn more about which type of trust will best suit your unique needs, contact Stock, Carlson & Duff LLC. Call our office today at 630-665-2500 and schedule a personalized consultation with a knowledgeable DuPage County estate planning attorney.

Sources:

https://www.isba.org/sites/default/files/publications/pamphlets/Estate%20Planning.pdf
https://www.washingtonpost.com/business/2020/06/17/purposes-revocable-vs-irrevocable-trusts/
https://www.thebalance.com/living-vs-revocable-trust-3505393

 

Keeping Living Wills Current

Illinois living will, DuPage County estate planning lawyerliving will is a document decided before death that prescribes the medical attention you choose in the event that you are unable to do so yourself. According to the Illinois General Assembly, the Living Will Act was passed to ensure that every state resident had the fundamental right to control the decisions related to his or her own medical care. This means that these decisions are not left to chance or to family in the event that sickness or other incapacitating factor makes the person unable to decide for himself.

Proponents of living wills say that these are matters of patient rights—physicians are not able to withhold or withdraw death-delaying procedures if a patient has signed a living will. For a living will to be valid, it needs to be signed by the patient (before he or she experienced the debilitating conditions) in the presence of a witness. The death-delaying procedures can include, but are not limited to:

  • Assisted ventilation; or
  • Intravenous feeding or medication; or
  • Blood transfusions; or
  • Artificial kidney treatments.

Determining a living will before a person becomes sick is essential, as discussing a person's last wishes when he or she is straddled with debilitating disease can be difficult and emotional. According to a recent article in The Guardian, however, a living will can sometimes be a negative thing for physicians. In certain cases, physicians can be backed into providing treatment far after a patient's body has ceased functioning because he or she signed a living will—which is sometimes decades old.

Extreme medical advances in recent decades allow physicians to keep a person alive far past the point of truly living. In the worst-case scenario, a living will can sometimes require physicians to perform harrowing and terrible procedures in order to honor a person's wishes—which perhaps he would no longer have chosen for himself. According to The Guardian, 70 percent of an average person's medical care costs are accumulated in the last six months of his or her life.

Living wills are important for anyone, regardless of medical history or socioeconomic status, because they allow a person to determine what he or she wants for his or her final days. Yet it is imperative that they be updated, reviewed, and revisited often, most beneficially in the presence of a legal professional. If you are ready to draft your living will or interested in learning more, do not go through it alone. Contact an experienced DuPage County estate planning attorney today.