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East Alton Estate Planning Law Blog

Your body, your choice: Making medical decisions for yourself

It is impossible to predict what will happen in the future, but you can give yourself a measure of protection by making sure you have certain documents included as part of your estate plan. You have the right to decide for yourself what kind of medical care you wish to receive in case you are ever incapacitated, but the only way to do that is to have certain documents drafted as part of your estate plan.

Through a health care power of attorney and a living will, you can outline your wishes for emergency and end-of-life care. No one likes to think about these matters, but it can provide peace of mind for both you and your loved ones to go ahead and make certain decisions in order to avoid future complications.

What happens if you die? The importance of wills

Talking about the possibility of dying is not exactly an enjoyable event, which is why creating a will is often placed on the back burner when it comes to tackling responsibilities. However, wills are powerful legal documents that clearly indicate what you desire to happen to all of you assets in Illinois after you die. These assets include both your property and your money.

Could your loved one benefit from a special needs trust?

Many individuals have loved ones in their lives that may need extra care due to a disability or mental challenges. As one of these individuals, you undoubtedly want to ensure that your loved one has the financial ability to receive necessary care as well as meet daily life needs, especially in the event of your death. However, you may also understand that gifting money could cause complications with government benefits.

Estate Planning is a Process, Not a Binder of Forms

There really is no question that it is important for almost every adult to have a will, and to consider signing both financial and health care powers of attorney. That is what we mean by "estate planning," and it is important to go through the process of preparing those documents.

Do not wait to set up powers of attorney

Trying to plan and prepare for the future can truly be a daunting task. While, realistically, there is no way to plan for every possible thing, it is possible to ensure that all of your legal bases are covered.

As part of the estate planning process, Illinois residents can set up powers of attorney in order to fully protect their wants and wishes in the event they become incapacitated. Setting this up in advance will only help your loved ones in the event it needs to be utilized.

A Will vs. a Living Trust

You've worked long and hard for the day when you would retire. You have avoided risky stocks and generally been conscientious about saving money. The good news is that you have saved enough to live comfortably and are at the point where it's time to figure out how you want to structure your estate planning.

The 2017 federal estate tax exemption threshold is $5.49 million, which means an individual's assets below this amount can be gifted tax free, but are taxed 40 percent if above this level. The threshold is adjusted yearly and is also subject to major changes with a new presidential administration. But even for estates worth less than this threshold, the smart move is to sit down with an attorney with experience in this area to figure out what will work best for your family.

The presidential election and estate taxes: Impact of each candidate

The estate tax is celebrating its 100th birthday this year. Although this marks a momentous occasion for the tax, this year also marks a big year for politics. This piece discusses how the current presidential race could impact the estate tax on its centennial.

The estate tax: A brief history

The estate tax went into effect in 1916. It was enacted under Woodrow Wilson and provided an exemption for the first $50,000 of wealth that was transferred. According to a recent piece by Accounting Today, this would translate to an exemption for roughly the first $1.1 million transferred in 2016.

Five estate planning considerations for your second marriage

A second marriage brings a lot of change with it. You may end up living in a different home or change employment. Because of all these transitions, there is the tendency to put off some important tasks for a later time. One area of life that is often neglected but no less vital is the need to modify your beneficiary designations and will. If you are about to embark on a second marriage, here are five important considerations in relation to your estate planning.

Start before the marriage

The best thing you can do for your new marriage is to talk about the subject of your wills before you even tie the knot. Discuss how to successfully bring them together. This will give you both the opportunity to talk about what is best for you and your families. Don't wait until you are in the middle of 'change stress' shortly after you're married. Thinking ahead will give you increased confidence and peace going into your new marriage.

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Leonard F. Berg, Attorney at Law