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East Alton Estate Planning Law Blog

Do you think an estate plan is unnecessary?

Though you may want to avoid thinking about your life eventually coming to an end, it happens to everyone. The manner in which it happens varies from person to person, and for some people it occurs unexpectedly while others may learn that they do not have much time left. Because either of these scenarios could happen to you, you may want to consider how you would like to leave your affairs.

Estate planning could allow you to closely examine the personal and financial aspects of your life and how you would like those areas handled after your demise. You may think that your family will know what to do on their own, and as a result, you may believe such planning to be unnecessary. However, without a plan, Illinois state laws could come into play, and your family could face complications when it comes to closing your estate.

What happens if you forget to add assets to your trust?

Because of the variety of estate planning options available to you, you may want to take your time when it comes to deciding which tools to utilize. Your estate plan will play an important role in the closing of your estate after your passing, and you will undoubtedly want to ensure that you complete your plan in the manner you desire. Of course, certain issues could arise with your plan, and due to this potential, you may want to consider how to best safeguard your plan.

If you choose to utilize a trust-based estate plan, you can place your assets into the trust in order to ensure that the property is distributed according to the terms you set forth. Depending on when you create the trust, you may obtain additional property that also needs placing into the trust. However, what happens if you forget to add those assets?

Could a Crummey trust help you avoid gift taxes?

You, like many other Illinois residents, may find taxes stressful and inconvenient. This displeasure may stem from various misunderstandings about taxation as well as the potential for you or family members to owe a considerable amount of money to the government for various reasons. If you hope to gift money or provide for loved ones after your death, you may have an interest in how taxes could come into play.

Gift taxes often apply after you reach a certain threshold every year, and while you certainly understand that you cannot hold on to money after death, you may still feel that distributing your funds too early could cause tax complications. However, you may have the ability to avoid gift taxes by utilizing a Crummey trust.

What does my cell phone have to do with a will or power of attorney?

Your cell phone has lots of information about you, including photos, access to Facebook and similar sites, passwords for financial and personal healthcare records, email, documents and contact information. These are "digital assets." If you die or become disabled due to accident or illness access to that information will be denied to those who want to help you unless you have signed a will or power of attorney. Even though you have very little money, giving written permission to someone you trust can be very helpful.

Important facts regarding powers of attorney and living wills

When you hear the word wills within the context of estate planning or elder law matters, do you automatically think of property, assets and inheritance? If so, you're likely not alone as asset distribution is commonly associated with wills. However, if you're one of many Illinois residents helping an elderly parent execute an estate plan, you'll definitely want to make sure your mother or father knows that there are different types of wills and that it's crucial to understand the differences before putting anything in writing.

If you're relatively unfamiliar with estate planning documents, it may help to do some research on the topic, as well as to talk to others who have already navigated the process so you can obtain as much information as possible as you help your aging loved one prepare for the future.

The "Extra Help" program pays my Part D prescription plan and gives discounts. What do these notices mean?

Read the notices carefully, since you might have to respond. An ORANGE notice explains the small changes in your co-pays for next year. There are two types of BLUE notices. The first kind says that you will be reassigned since your insurance company is leaving the Medicare program. The second kind says that you will be reassigned since the insurance company's premiums are rising above the government levels. Under both of these blue notices if you want to choose your own insurance company you must act before the end of the year. If you receive a GREY notice, you should take action before the end of the year. This notice means that the government believes your income or assets have increased or your premium is increasing too much; it may be necessary to file an appeal or choose a new insurance company. SHIP counselors can help you at (800) 252-8966 or email [email protected]

3 stipulations you could add to trusts

When creating your estate plan, you may already know that you would like to leave funds behind for the benefit of your children and grandchildren. Of course, if you have a considerable amount of money to distribute, you may not feel comfortable simply stating in a will that each individual shall receive a certain amount of that money. Therefore, you may find yourself exploring trusts as a planning option.

Trusts can oftentimes provide a greater sense of security when you hope to leave family members a considerable inheritance. When you worry about how your loved ones may spend the money, trusts can help you better ensure that they spend the funds in a manner of which you would approve.

You can act today to plan for a strong retirement tomorrow

Retirement is part of the American dream, and you have worked many years to save and plan for the future. It is impossible to predict what will happen in the months and years ahead, making it crucial to have a strong retirement plan and other legal protections in place that you can adjust as necessary, as life changes and unexpected contingencies happen. 

You may be close to retirement or may have many years, even decades, of work ahead of you, but that does not mean that you cannot plan for a strong future. There are steps that you can take today to make sure that your tomorrow is secure, transitioning to a sustainable, comfortable retirement. 

Are you cloudy on your see-through trust options?

When considering your trust options, you may wonder about the best ways to utilize this type of estate planning tool. Trusts can have a variety of uses and can even act as beneficiaries to certain accounts. However, if you hope to create a trust for this use, you may need to understand the specific type of trust needed or what provisions may apply.

When it comes to naming a trust as the beneficiary to your individual retirement accounts, you may need to utilize a see-through trust. This type of designation allows for the contents of your IRA to pass to the trust, and after it goes into the trust, the contents will then pass to the beneficiaries named to the trust.

5 estate planning myths you may believe

Though living in a world where you can easily access information on any topic can provide many benefits, it can also make it more difficult to discern reliable facts from incorrect notions. Some websites or articles may seem legitimate and claim to offer helpful information, but without the proper research, you could potentially consume inaccurate knowledge. Even ideas that have been considered factual for years may, in fact, be widespread misconceptions.

Because the misinformation often plays a role in the lives of many unsuspecting individuals, you likely want to gain the right information before making important life decisions. When it comes to estate planning, you need this knowledge before making end-of-life decisions. Therefore, you may wish to fact-check your understanding before deciding against planning.

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Leonard F. Berg, Attorney at Law