About Bott & Associates Ltd.

Drafting your own will increase the likelihood of making costly mistakes. Although the do-it-yourself, at-home alternatives may be enticing, the American Bar Association recommends hiring an Estate Planning Lawyer, or a legal professional that specializes in wills and estate planning. A qualified estate planning lawyer will be able to explain to you their interpretation of the intricacies of laws regarding property, taxes, wills, trusts, and probates. Secondly, at-home will writing kits cannot provide the personalized legal advice, the experience, and experiential knowledge base that will help those writing a will, or estate plan to feel confident about the terms and conditions in the documents.

One of the first mistakes many Americans make is to believe that estate planning is just for families who have a significant amount of wealth. At the same time, there are some who believe a simple Illinois will is the only tool they need in their estate plan. Both of these things are not necessarily true. Actually, as an estate planning lawyer Arlington Heights, IL has to offer might explain to you, in some cases, planning for a smaller estate is more important than a large estate. 

Estate planning lawyers

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    Trusted estate planning assistance

    The guidance of a qualified professional will make the process easier to understand, helping to ensure that assets passing outside of your estate are handled properly, nuances of state law are considered, and other relevant tax and legal factors are resolved. Our Arlington Heights, IL estate planning lawyer from Bott & Associates, LTD promises to make sure your legacy continues, and your property, assets, and other affairs are handled with care, taking into account nuances of local state, and federal laws as they pertain to your estate. We work to deliver peace of mind.

    Proven Excellence in Estate Planning 

    At Bott & Associates, LTD, our team strives to provide personalized assistance with all of your estate planning related affairs. Our estate planning lawyer has been practicing law for over 20 years, and is one of only a handful of members of the American Academy of Estate Planning lawyers, in the Chicagoland area. The American Academy of Estate Planning Attorneys is a national exclusive organization dedicated to promoting excellence in estate planning.

    A Personalized Approach to Estate Planning

    We will assist with writing a will, or planning an estate, and will be able to explain Illinois law as it pertains to your estate, and provide advice based on our years of experience serving clients with estate planning and probate needs. Prior to creating your estate plan, contact us to schedule a free half-hour consultation. We will evaluate your situation and offer helpful suggestions about next steps and the most viable course of action based on your specific needs. At Bott & Associates we aim to treat every single client as part of our family. 

    Prepare for the future

    Our estate planning services are not limited to writing your will. Our team can also help with creation of other estate-related legal documents as well, documents such as living trusts, or coming up with a plan for asset protection plans for your beneficiaries. Our team can also help with health care directives, to be implemented in the event you become incapacitated and are unable to make decisions on your own.
    If you are like most people, you have spent most of your lifetime achieving your goals. The advice and direction of our estate planning lawyer will be essential to implementing an estate plan that handles your assets according to your wishes and meets all other estate related objectives. To learn more about how our Arlington Heights, IL estate planning lawyer can assist you, Illinois based residents often choose to contact Bott & Associates LTD, who are experienced in helping clients with their estate planning needs. 

    To learn more about our estate planning services, please call an estate planning lawyer Arlington Heights, IL community members recommend from Bott & Associates, Ltd. today.

    If You Fail to Plan Your Estate, The Court May Step In

    If you die without a will or trust, the court will settle your estate on your behalf. In general, this can take several years to settle and may cost 3-10% of your estate. Furthermore, it is certainly possible for your assets to be distributed in a way that does not meet your wishes.

    Opting for a revocable living trust will result in the successor trustee, named by you, to handle all estate related matters. The court will not intervene unless there is a legitimate reason to do so; such as, an estate litigation issue. 

    Bare in mind that it is not recommended to draft your own estate plan. You should ask an estate planning lawyer Arlington Heights, IL provides to help you with the process. In doing so, you can ensure that:

    • The right wording and punctuation has been used
    • There is no confusing language
    • Small details have been covered
    • All important facets and elements have been considered
    • Your estate plan is legitimate and will uphold in court

    In general, before you can complete your estate plan, your Arlington estate planning lawyer will need to ask you questions about your finances. This may involve direction from your accountants and financial professionals. Not all lawyers will understand how to go about this process, for this reason it is recommended to utilize an estate planning lawyer Arlington Heights, IL has to offer from Bott & Associates, Ltd. As your estate planning lawyer, we are ready to partner with your tax advisors, accountants, stockbrokers, or any other party associated with your finances, at your direction, to create a team-like approach to your planning. 

    What Happens When a Stepparent Claims Rights to Inherit an Estate?

    One of the most common questions our estate litigation lawyers receive regards step parents and their ability to inherit an estate after their spouse dies. An example of this scenario may be when the step parent takes the deceased assets and claims the surviving children do not have any right to them. A scenario like this can become very complicated and result in months or years of litigation. 

    If you are wondering how to resolve a problem like this, or want to know who will get what, consider the following. 

    Create a List of the Deceased Person’s Assets and How they Are Titled

    Take some time to make a list of all the assets belonging to the deceased. If there are any titles with them, note the name of title. This part will help you determine what will have to go through the probate process, as well as, the rights of the parties involved. If you don’t know how the assets are titled, keep them on the list anyways. An estate litigation lawyer may need to help you with this hurdle. 

    Dying Without a Will

    No one likes to think about their death. It isn’t an exciting or welcoming topic of discussion, especially if you are young, fit, and healthy. However, at any time, you could suffer a catastrophic injury that may lead to your untimely death.

    Having an estate plan in place is something every adult should strive for, and it becomes even more critical when you own something. When you get married or have children, you want to ensure that the things you own pass smoothly to your heirs. Dying without a will means leaving your family in a lurch, and the status of your property in limbo. Consider how the basic process works when you leave your family with nothing to follow. If you have any immediate questions, please call an estate planning lawyer Arlington Heights, IL respects now. 

    Intestacy Laws

    In many states, when you die without a will, your estate is considered to be in intestacy. This means you died with no will or estate plan in place that designates how you want your property divided. The probate process, which is typically required even with a will, becomes lengthier if you die intestacy. There are laws in many states that give an order to heirs when someone dies intestacy. Your estate planning lawyer in Arlington Heights, IL can confirm who would have the rights to your estate if you were to die without a will. 

    The Order of Heirs – Surviving Spouse

    While each state has its own laws, there is a general order that the court will typically abide by. First, if the deceased is married, the spouse petitions to assume the estate. This happens naturally for the property that is co-owned with the spouse, but for things that were only in the deceased’s name, there may be circumstances under which they do not pass to the spouse. If the deceased had children with someone else, a share of the individually owned property might wind up passing to those children and the rest to the surviving spouse. When children are shared between spouses, and one dies without a will, the other assumes control of the estate with the thought that upon their death, the entire estate will usually be divided up between the children. There might be special circumstances that apply; therefore, you should consult an estate planning lawyer in Arlington Heights, IL for more information. 

    When There Is No Spouse

    If the deceased had no spouse, then the order of heirs gets a bit trickier. Say there are direct descendants, such as children. The estate would likely go to them if they are old enough or to their guardian if they are not. This might mean an ex gets control of the estate for a time. If there is no direct descendant, then the deceased’s parents will be next in line to inherit. From there, the chain moves to siblings, aunts or uncles, nieces,  nephews, cousins, and so forth. As an estate planning lawyer in Arlington Heights, Illinois might explain to you, the process for dividing up an estate in this way is lengthy. If you want to maintain control over who gets your property upon your death, it is a good idea to sit down with an Arlington Heights, IL  estate planning lawyer as soon as possible. 

    Take Any Non-Probate Assets Off the List

    Some assets will not be considered probate assets. Rather, they will automatically pass to a survivor based upon the way in which the asset is titled. As an estate litigation lawyer might explain to you, non-probate assets might include:

    •  Real estate jointly owned and with rights of survivorship
    • Jointly owned bank accounts
    • Life insurance accounts with beneficiaries
    • Financial accounts that have beneficiaries

    Assets in a Living Trust

    Sometimes, when a stepparent has a right to access the assets, he or she may acquire them without having to go through probate. In general, if a bank, realtor, or title company is giving the step parent access to the assets, it is often because he or she has become the owner of the property.

    So, if the stepparent is using money in a bank account, he or she is likely the designated beneficiary or joint owner. Likewise, if property is being sold, the stepparent may be named in the title with rights of survivorship.

    In a situation like this, even if the deceased person had a will, or regardless of what the will might have said, if the asset is not considered to be a probate asset, it won’t go to the will. In other words, the title will trump the will. In general, the asset will belong to the person on the title, and there may be very little way to argue against what has happened.

    Proving Ownership of Probate Applicable Assets

    After you have removed any assets that are titled and not eligible for probate, the remaining assets will belong to the estate and must be probated. In the event of any real estate, bank account, or other account solely in the decedent’s name, it will pass through the will or intestacy. As an estate litigation lawyer might explain to you, the rights of the children and step parent will be relatively easy, and in accordance to the laws of the state.

    Unfortunately, in many situations, once the non-probate assets have been subtracted out, what is left is miscellaneous items. Proving who owns this property, and who will get what can be difficult.

    Deciding if it’s Worth It

    If you have read over the aforementioned, you should have some idea of all the assets involved and their value. Take time to compare this value with the cost of probate, litigation, and an estate litigation lawyer. The best way to determine whether it is worth it is to call an estate litigation lawyer for further advice.

    Choosing an Executor

    If you are thinking about planning your estate and making a will, you will need to name someone as the executor. An executor plays an important role in the process of winding up your estate and distributing assets to beneficiaries. Hence, it is crucial that you think about who you should name.

    If you are thinking about planning your estate, or you have been named as an executor and you need assistance with the process, you should contact an Arlington Heights, IL estate planning lawyer from our firm who can help you with the process.

    Duties of an Executor

    Every will must have an executor named. It is also a good idea to have a backup executor if for some reason your first choice is unable to fulfill their duties. An executor plays a crucial role in the administration of an estate. The executor of a will is responsible for collecting and protecting the assets of the estate, paying the bills of the estate, including creditors and taxes, inventorying the estate, and distributing assets to beneficiaries. If necessary, the executor will also need to offer the will for probate. These duties are important, but also may sound daunting, so you should name someone to the role who will be good at it.

    What to Look for in An Executor

    As an Arlington Heights, IL estate planning lawyer can explain, executors are usually either family members, close friends, or business acquaintances. However, there is an option of choosing a professional as an executor, but the fees may be prohibitive for many estates. If you do decide to go with a layperson, here are some qualities you may want to look for:


    Depending on how your will is written, and your family dynamics, you may want to try to avoid conflicts of interests. For example, if you have several children that do not get along and that is who your estate is going to, it may make sense to name a different family member to minimize conflict. However, if your entire estate is going to your spouse, you can name them as an executor since there is no one else to accuse them of being unfair.

    Basic understanding of finances

    While you do not need to be a professional to be the executor of a will, having a basic understanding of accounting and how to gather assets, pay creditors and taxes, and a basic understanding of the probate process.

    Someone who knows when to get help

    This is one of the most important qualities of an executor since knowing when to hire an expert is a main part of the job. A qualified estate planning lawyer can help walk them through the process.

     A Comprehensive Estate Plan

    When many consider planning for the future, most people are aware that they should have a will. However, often more documents should comprise a person’s estate. An estate plan is comprised of several key documents that include:

    • Letter of Intent
    • A Will
    • Beneficiary Designations
    • Durable Power of Attorney
    • Healthcare Power of Attorney
    • Guardianship Designations
    • Designation of an Estate Executor

    Having an estate plan offers peace of mind for you and your loved ones as they will have a clear picture of what comes next. However, it’s important to note that once an estate plan is created, you must update it over time because they are living, breathing documents. An estate planning lawyer in Arlington Heights, IL, can help ensure that an estate plan is updated every 3-5 years or when notable changes occur, such as relationship changes, the birth of children, a change of assets or liabilities. 

    Reasons to Communicate Your Plans

    When putting together an estate plan, you will be faced with making many vital decisions over your affairs. These decisions will involve assets, liabilities, guardianship over children, financial and healthcare power of attorney, etc. Once the estate plan has been drafted, the natural next step will be to communicate some of the details with family members and those involved when the time comes. While they don’t need to know every minute detail in the estate plan, there should be communication regarding the basic information of the plan. By meeting with family and allowing them to hear your wishes and reasoning for the decisions that have been made, it’s possible to reduce family conflict significantly. When a person passes away or becomes incapacitated, loved ones may not see eye to eye as they may have differing views over what your wishes would have been. Talking with family about the estate plan and allowing them to ask questions can help for the smoothest process possible. 

    Proper Preparation for the First Meeting

    While many people put off the estate planning process, it’s a necessary step towards planning for the future and should be prioritized. The process doesn’t have to be as complex as it may initially appear when you retain an experienced lawyer. However, for estate planning to be done succinctly and efficiently, it’s helpful to prepare for the first meeting properly. It may be beneficial to come equipped with the following:

    Prepare a list of questions for the lawyer

    Come prepared with information for family members, such as:

    • Age
    • Names
    • Date of Birth

    Financial information such as:

    • Retirement Accounts
    • Bank Accounts
    • Pension Plans
    • Investments
    • Life Insurance Information

    Property (including mortgage balance and market value)

    • A listing of all personal property

    An idea of who you would like to care for children, manage the estate, etc. 

    Schedule a meeting with our Arlington Heights, Illinois estate planning lawyer for further information about estate planning with Bott & Associates, LTD. 

    Arlington Estate Planning FAQs

    Estate planning is a critical part of ensuring your assets are distributed according to your wishes, avoiding potential legal disputes, and protecting your family’s financial future after your passing. The process, however, can be intricate and overwhelming, involving wills, trusts, power of attorney, tax planning, and more. Hiring an experienced Arlington Heights, IL estate planning lawyer can help alleviate stress and ensure that your plan is legally sound, tailored to your unique situation, and optimal in minimizing taxes and other expenses. But many clients still find themselves with lingering questions about the process and its necessities.

    Why should I hire an Arlington Heights estate planning lawyer instead of doing it myself?

    Drafting estate plans involves many legal complexities and tax intricacies that could be easily overlooked by the untrained eye. Additionally, state laws differ and may significantly influence how your estate is handled. An experienced Arlington Heights estate planning lawyer can help ensure your documents comply with Illinois law, optimize your tax position, and truly reflect your wishes.

    When is the best time to start estate planning?

    Many people think that estate planning is only for the elderly or those with significant wealth. However, life is unpredictable and not having a plan can lead to complications for your loved ones. It’s recommended to start estate planning as early as possible, but it’s never too late to get started. Consulting with an Arlington Heights estate planning lawyer can help you understand the best time to begin based on your unique circumstances.

    What should I include in my estate plan?

    An estate plan typically includes a will, but there are other important documents as well, like a power of attorney, healthcare directive, and possibly trusts. The exact documents you need depend on your specific situation, such as the size and complexity of your estate, your goals for your assets, your health status, and family dynamics. An estate planning lawyer can help you identify the right tools for your needs.

    How often should I update my estate plan?

    Changes in your life such as marriage, divorce, the birth of children or grandchildren, changes in your financial situation, or changes in estate tax laws may necessitate a review and update of your estate plan. It’s a good idea to consult with your lawyer every few years, or whenever significant life changes occur, to ensure your plan still aligns with your wishes.

    Can an estate planning lawyer help with the probate process?

    Yes. The probate process can be complex and time-consuming. A lawyer can help navigate the legal process, ensuring all debts are paid and assets distributed according to the decedent’s will or state law if there is no will. If you’ve been named an executor, a lawyer can provide valuable guidance and help minimize the potential for disputes among heirs.

    Remember, estate planning is not only about distributing your assets—it’s about peace of mind, protecting your loved ones, and ensuring your legacy lives on according to your wishes. An experienced Arlington Heights estate planning lawyer can be an indispensable partner in this process.

    Estate Planning Infographic

    Arlington Estate Planning FAQs Infographic

    Let Us Help You Today

    Estate planning, including naming an executor for your will, is a complicated process that relies on knowledge of different estate planning tools and techniques to make sure that your estate is free from unnecessary fees and taxes and that it is administered properly. An experienced estate planning lawyer in Arlington Heights, IL from Bott & Associates, Ltd. can help.