Estate Planning Lawyer Barrington, IL


Estate Planning Lawyer Barrington, IL - man hand in dress suit signing paper with pen

A Barrington, Illinois estate planning lawyer from Bott & Associates, Ltd. can assist you with creating your legacy in a way that reflects your final wishes. In addition to specifying the distribution of your assets and other property, you can express your intentions and wishes for the loved ones you leave behind. Our estate planning lawyer can also help you put safeguards in place should you become incapacitated before passing away. Allow us to assist you and your family with your estate planning needs.

The Importance of Planning Your Estate

Planning one’s estate is not limited to focusing on who will inherit your assets. A comprehensive estate plan created with the help of an experienced Barrington, IL estate planning lawyer from Bott & Associates, Ltd. will include other essential directives. For instance, it may consist of medical treatment instructions should the individual experience a critical health issue that prevents them from making important decisions independently. An estate planning lawyer can also help you and your heirs avoid paying unnecessary taxes. We will also be there for you when updates to your estate plan are necessary afterlife events that necessitate changes.

The Risks of Not Planning Your Estate

The absence of an estate plan can cause a ripple effect of issues ranging from confusion, stress, and angst amongst heirs to courtroom litigation and the reality that your final wishes may not be honored. In short, not having an estate plan can be costly for you and your loved ones in terms of taxes and the emotional toll. Even close families can enter into turmoil when loved ones are left to wonder what the deceased wanted for burial plans, asset distribution, and final thoughts. These disagreements have the potential to last forever and splinter families. Our skilled estate planning lawyer can help you and your family avoid these scenarios by creating a robust estate plan.

Estate Plan Options

When you meet with a Barrington, IL estate planning lawyer from our firm, a review of your circumstances will reveal the optimum choices for planning your estate. You may benefit from creating a revocable or an irrevocable trust and a will. There may be tax obligations or savings that can also be addressed for maximum advantages. Depending on your circumstances, your estate plan may take some or all of the following into account:

  • The distribution of real property to particular individuals.
  • Your checking and savings accounts balances.
  • Insurance policy benefits.
  • Miscellaneous investments and assets.
  • School tuition accounts.
  • End-of-life and medical care decisions.

Does it matter how a will is signed?

A will is considered the last statement of a person and sets out how they would like their estate to be distributed after they die. After a will has been drafted, it will not be considered legal until signed. As an estate litigation lawyer might explain, there is a correct way to sign a will. If it is not signed correctly, it may be considered invalid. If this should happen, several issues could arise, and lead you to needing an estate litigation lawyer.

What Makes a Will Valid?

A will may not be considered valid unless it includes the following:

  • The will is in writing and is signed by the testator or another person in their presence and by their direction. 
  • The testator intended, with their signature, to give effect to the will. 
  • The signature was made in the presence of another witness.
  • The witness attested to and signed the will or acknowledged the testator’s signature.

If the above was not complied with, the estate might be disputed and/or distributed according to intestacy laws. 

The Signature Page

Any mark made on the will by the testator could validate it as long as that was the intention. The signature page of the will is considered to be an accurate reflection of how the testator should sign the will. A few scenarios may hold true and warrant the need for the signature page to be slightly altered. 

  • If the testator cannot read, the signature page should state that it was read to them.
  • If the testator could not sign the will, someone else can do so on their behalf. This should be stated on the signature page. 
  • If the testator signs the will but struggles to do so clearly, the page can state that the testator will make a mark, and the mark will act as the signature. 

A date is not necessary; however, an estate litigation lawyer would recommend that it is included. This helps to avoid any doubt regarding whether it is the latest will. 

Requirements of a Witness

In general, two witnesses are required during the signing of a will. They should also possess characteristics including:

  • The witness should be over 18. 
  • They cannot be blind. 
  • They should be traceable.
  • They must have a sound understanding of what they are doing. 

Witnesses don’t have to be in a specific profession or need any certifications or qualifications. Many witnesses are good friends, neighbors, work colleagues, or family members. It is also possible to have a notary witness or lawyer act as a witness for a will. 

Do You Suspect a Wills’ Signature is Fraudulent or Invalid?

If you are currently probating a will and you believe there is a problem with the signature, consider calling an estate litigation lawyer as quickly as possible. 

Can I Cancel a Will?

If you are wondering whether or not a will can be canceled, in short, yes, it can be; however, there is a right and a wrong way to go about it. If you would like to cancel a will, you should understand how to do so to ensure your estate can be administered correctly after you die. Generally speaking, you may revoke a will by utilizing one of the following methods:

  • Revoking a Will in Writing – If you would like to cancel your will, you can draw a written document that expresses this desire. In general, this method is only done when a new will is drafted, and included in this new document should be a statement noting the old will has been canceled. An estate planning lawyer in Barrington, IL, can ensure this is done correctly so there is no confusion or potential of a will challenge.
  • Physically Destroying the Will – It is possible to physically destroy the will by tearing, burning, or otherwise ruining the document. For this act to be valid, you, the drafter of the will, must intend to cancel it by the physical act.
  • Lawful Operation – Under the law, certain occurrences could cause a will to be canceled. These events may include but are not limited to a marriage, divorce, and the birth of a child. 

As an estate planning lawyer in Barrington, IL might explain to you, one of the most critical elements that must be considered when canceling a will is the actual intention or desire to cancel it. If a will’s creator has not mentioned their wish or intention to revoke the will, and later after their death, it is discovered that a will has been destroyed, there could be grounds for a dispute. In this case, you would likely need to retain an estate planning lawyer in Barrington, IL, who understands litigation. 

Should I Cancel a Will?

Sometimes it may be necessary to revoke a will. Examples may include:

  • The birth or death of an immediate family member, relative, or friend who may be a named beneficiary or will likely be a named beneficiary. 
  • Property has been acquired. 
  • A large amount of money has been acquired. 
  • A large debt has been acquired. 
  • There has been a change in marital status. 
  • There has been a new relocation out of the country. 

In general, anyone with a will can revoke it if they believe life changes will affect provisions. A Barrington, IL estate planning lawyer may tell you that it is often easier to create a new will rather than make amendments to a current one. You may want to consider talking with a lawyer to determine whether you should add an amendment or make a new will. The same advice applies if you are thinking about canceling a current will. 

Call our estate planning lawyers in Barrington, IL, if you are ready to cancel or draft a will. We will be happy to review your current situation and explain what your best options may be. Give us a call today. 

Free Consultation with a Skilled Estate Planning Lawyer in Barrington, IL

Bott & Associates, Ltd. offers free consultations with a lawyer from our firm to review your circumstances to introduce you to your estate planning options. After this preliminary case review, your estate planning lawyer Barrington, IL clients recommend can help you create a lasting legacy. Give us a call today to schedule your no-cost consultation with our estate planning lawyer.

What Does Gifting Mean?

If you have investments and income that put you in the highest tax bracket, it’s worth your while to look into the concept of gifting as it applies to taxes. A Barrington, IL estate planning lawyer can explain how gifting may benefit your estate. In the meantime, here is a brief overview. 

Leaving Money in a Will

Most people are familiar with giving money to their children or family in their will. The drawback of leaving money or property in a will is estate taxes. When your executor divides your estate, taxes must be paid on the gifts that you make before their distribution. For example, if you leave a gift of $50,000 to your son or daughter, there will be a tax taken from your property to pay for that first. Consequently, the overall amount of money that can be distributed to everyone is lowered.

Gifting

On the other hand, you can provide that same $50,000 to your son or daughter by gifting it to them one year at a time in $15,000 increments tax-free while you are alive. That is how gifting works with the IRS, though the particular amount is adjusted each year for inflation. You – and your spouse – are allowed to give unlimited tax-free gifts of $15,000 per year to as many people as you would like. Your son or daughter will not be taxed on the gift they receive. You will not be taxed on the money you give. The only tax that occurs is once your child or loved one gets money; any interest accrued on it then becomes taxable.

Considerations with Gifting

The benefits of gifting include:

  • It is tax-free for up to $15,000 per year
  • The funds are immediately available to the recipient 
  • Your estate tax will be reduced by whatever amount you gift overall

However, there is always a flip side to any coin. Before you decide whether to use gifting, consider these points:

  1. Gifting will decrease your current bank account
  2. You will need to plan and implement the gifting
  3. You need to trust your children or loved ones to use the money wisely

Estate taxes take some of the money you want to leave your family away from them. So using the option of gifting ahead of time allows you to give your friends and family the money you wish them to receive before you die and without the penalty of taxes. If you are interested in learning more about the possibility of gifting, contact an estate planning lawyer in Barrington, IL, families trust from Bott & Associates, Ltd. today to find out more about this choice.

Your Estate Planning Questions- Answered

An estate planning lawyer in Barrington, IL, can help people who need to develop an estate plan or need assistance with updating an already existing estate plan. The estate planning process isn’t just a tool reserved for the wealthy; estate planning is imperative for many. It outlines crucial life decisions that your loved ones will need if you cannot make decisions independently. Estate planning can seem overwhelming and complex; however, with the assistance of a firm like Bott & Associates, LTD, there’s an opportunity to make the process as straightforward as possible. 

When developing an estate plan, it’s common to have many questions regarding the process and the decisions you must make…

What are the essential elements of an estate plan?

An estate plan is when a person maps out their wishes for the future. An estate plan encompasses several documents that take effect during a person’s lifetime, should they be unable to make decisions independently, and when they pass away. These documents can protect assets, outline healthcare needs, and more. Components of an estate plan often include:

  • Letter of Intent
  • A Will
  • Financial Power of Attorney
  • Advanced Healthcare Directives
  • Living Trust
  • Beneficiary Designations
  • Guardianship Designations

Why are estate plans so important?

Estate planning is crucial for several reasons. The estate plan ensures that your wishes are carried out; it also protects your loved ones and ensures they can receive the inheritance you have left them. While many may believe that a will is sufficient, our estate planning lawyer in Barrington, Illinois, can share that an estate plan goes well beyond what a will can offer. 

What is probate, and why should I try to avoid it?

Probate is the process of validating the will in court, ensuring that debts and taxes are paid, the executor is appointed, and the estate is resolved. Many people are looking to avoid probate because it can be costly, time-consuming, and becomes a public record. Probate is a requirement. However, it’s possible to minimize the number of assets that must pass through probate with the proper strategies. 

How can developing a trust enhance my estate plan?

Developing a trust can offer several benefits. While a person can choose several types of trusts, a trust is broadly described as transferring assets from the owner to a trustee, who will manage these assets. Living trusts can be developed and managed while a person is still living. In some cases, the grantor (the person who puts assets into the trust) can also be the party responsible for managing these assets until they pass away. A trust can offer several advantages, including: 

  • Keeping assets private
  • Assets within the trust can avoid probate
  • Can include specific instructions for how and when assets are distributed
  • Reduce estate taxes
  • +More

What are common mistakes that can be made when estate planning?

When a person sets out to develop their estate plan, they only have the best of intentions as they will have a personal stake in ensuring that the estate plan covers all aspects of their life. However, when the proper care is not taken, it’s possible to make mistakes that could have a significant impact on the future, including:

  • Not communicating your wishes to family
  • Attempting to make an estate plan without a lawyer
  • Forgetting to include key estate planning elements
  • Not taking taxes into consideration
  • Failing to update your estate plan regularly
  • Not identifying backup beneficiaries

Bott & Associates, LTD can assist with avoiding these common pitfalls; we can also ensure that your estate plan is customized to meet your needs. Learn more about our services by meeting with our estate planning lawyer in Barrington, IL.

Can You Make an Estate Plan Without a Lawyer?

Some people consider drafting their estate plan themselves to save money. While there are many do-it-yourself estate planning forms available online, it may not be in your best interest to use them. Estate planning laws can differ by state, and these online forms do not always take state specific laws into account. If you draft your estate plan on your own, it might not be valid in court. That is why it is worth spending the extra money on hiring an experienced planning lawyer. He or she will help you draft a valid estate plan that will stand up in court. This will give you peace of mind.

Do Young People Need an Estate Plan?

It is still commonly assumed that younger people can wait until they are older to establish an estate plan. However, it is actually never too early to start your estate plan. Even if you’re young, you just never know if the unexpected will happen. You want to make sure that your property goes to the right people. Establishing a proper estate plan will help you do that. Additionally, if you have children or pets, you can appoint a guardian for them in your plan.

Who Should I Select as the Executor of My Will?

An executor is responsible for paying your creditors, ensuring your final wishes are carried out and distributing assets to the proper beneficiaries. Since the job is such a big responsibility, you should not choose just anyone for the job. Your executor should be organized, trustworthy, communicative, financially savvy and impartial. If you can find someone in your family to fulfill the role, you may consider hiring a third-party, such as a lawyer to complete the job.

What Plans Can I Make for My Pets?

If you have pets, you of course want them to be taken care of if you should die suddenly. Luckily, you can provide for your pets in a will. You can appoint the person you want to take care of your pet and leave money for their care. You can also list instructions about how to properly take care of your pets. For example, if your dog requires a special food for allergies or must take medication every day, you should write that down in your will.