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Illinois Rules for Estate Planning

Book estate law and gavel on a table.

Estate planning isn’t merely about preparing for the end. It’s a critical process that provides you with peace of mind knowing your hard-earned assets and your loved ones will be taken care of according to your wishes, while also ensuring you are adequately cared for and protected financially during your lifetime. Below you’ll find an overview of the essential components of an estate plan, with reference to Illinois rules as appropriate. For help with creating or updating an estate plan in Chicagoland, contact MacDonald, Lee & Senechalle, Ltd. , at our offices in Hoffman Estates and Des Plaines.

Estate Planning in Illinois: An Overview

In Illinois, as in most other states, estate planning goes beyond just preparing a will. It encompasses multiple areas including, but not limited to, the creation of wills and trusts, designation of power of attorney, and understanding probate and estate tax laws. The size of your estate doesn’t dictate the need for estate planning. Everyone can benefit from having a structured plan in place.

Wills in Illinois

One of the essential components of estate planning is creating a will. Under Illinois law, any person of sound mind and who is 18 years or older can create a will. The will must be written and signed by the testator and witnessed by two individuals not named in the will. Contrary to popular belief, a will doesn’t avoid probate, but it does allow you to dictate how your estate will be distributed after your death.

Trusts in Illinois

Trusts are another powerful tool in estate planning. Unlike wills, trusts can help avoid the probate process, as well as provide for minor children or family members with special needs and offer tax advantages. Illinois law recognizes various types of trusts, such as revocable living trusts, irrevocable trusts, and special needs trusts. Each trust type serves different purposes and can be tailored to fit your specific needs.

Power of Attorney in Illinois

A Power of Attorney (POA) is a legal document that allows you to appoint someone to handle your affairs if you become unable to do so. Illinois recognizes two types of POA: one for health care and another for property. The POA for health care lets you designate someone to make medical decisions on your behalf, while the POA for property covers financial matters. Both documents provide you with control over who can make decisions when you are unable to.

Probate and Estate Tax in Illinois

Probate is the legal process whereby a deceased person’s estate is administered and distributed. Although often viewed as a process to avoid, it can provide certain assurances and resolve disputes among heirs. Illinois only requires probate for estates with a gross value above $100,000, not including assets held in trust or assets with a named beneficiary.

Illinois is one of a few states that levy a separate estate tax. As of this writing, estates exceeding $4 million are subject to the state’s estate tax. Effective planning with tools like trusts can help minimize estate tax implications.

The Role of a Professional Estate Planning Attorney

Creating an estate plan is more than just filling out forms. It requires a comprehensive understanding of your financial situation, family dynamics, and your wishes for the future, all while considering current laws and potential tax implications. As experienced estate planning attorneys, MacDonald, Lee & Senechalle, Ltd. , can provide invaluable guidance to ensure your estate plan meets your specific needs and goals.

Contact Our Illinois Estate Planning Professionals Today

Take control of your future today. Contact MacDonald, Lee & Senechalle, Ltd. , for smart and strategic legal advice on Illinois estate planning. We’re here to help you navigate the complexities of wills, trusts, powers of attorney, probate, and estate tax laws. Let us guide you in making the best decisions for you, your estate and your loved ones.

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