Estate Planning Lawyer Arlington Heights, ILEstate Planning Lawyer Arlington Heights, IL

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. 

The Role of An Arlington, IL Estate Planning Lawyer 

Estate planning in Illinois includes a process of planning and creating a number of documents to create a whole, coherent plan that includes various details of what should happen to you, your assets, and your family in the event of your incapacitation or death. At Bott & Associates, Ltd., we consider estate planning to akin to 360 degree planning for your future. Consider these questions:

  • What will happen to you or your loved ones if you become disabled?
  • What will happen to your investments or business after you die?
  • Is there someone who will take care of your minor children?

As your estate planning lawyer Arlington Heights, IL respects, we are able to help you make sense of questions like these, as well as those that may be more complicated. We know it’s a lot to think about and want you to understand this does not have to be overwhelming. Let us help you make sense of estate planning. Call Bott & Associates, Ltd. now. 

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.

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.