Estate Planning Lawyer Oak Brook, IL

As an estate planning lawyer Oak Brook, IL residents trust to represent their interests can tell you, digital technology is changing the nature of what it means to engage in estate planning. Americans are living during a time in history that is increasingly being referred to as “The Digital Age.” Fifty years ago, it would have been difficult to imagine that virtually everyone in the U.S. who had achieved puberty would be spending significant portions of every day with a computer in their lap and another in their pocket. Yet, nowadays, it is hard to imagine navigating a world in which we don’t have access to GPS, the means to communicate with virtually anyone else in the world, and the ability to look up facts at the touch of a screen.

It is precisely because so much of Americans’ daily lives are lived online and via electronic means that it is critical to consider one’s digital footprint when estate planning.  It is easy to overlook this area as you are developing your estate plan and your larger framework. Failing to account for one’s online presence can leave significant gaps in one’s estate plan. With the pervasive threat of security breaches and expanding your plan to address digital privacy concerns, it is crucial that you prepare a comprehensive plan that protects your assets. However, it can be hard to know where to start. There are many legal strategies that you can deploy. Thankfully, the dedicated legal team at Bott & Associates, Ltd. can help you prepare for all of your digital estate planning needs.

Estate Planning Lawyers
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    Estate Planning Overview

    Estate planning in Illinois is a comprehensive legal process, designed to ensure that an individual’s assets and healthcare wishes are managed and honored according to their specific desires. This process involves a variety of legal documents and strategies, each serving a unique purpose.

    Last Will and Testament

    This vital document outlines your specific wishes for how your assets should be distributed after your passing. It’s not just about financial assets; it can also include detailed instructions on appointing guardians for any minor children you may have, ensuring their care and protection.

    Trusts

    These are legal structures created to hold and manage assets. Trusts can be particularly useful in Illinois estate planning for several reasons. They help in avoiding the often lengthy and public probate process, thereby maintaining privacy. Trusts can also provide more control over how and when your assets are distributed to beneficiaries, which can be especially beneficial for minors or those who might not manage a lump sum inheritance effectively.

    Power of Attorney

    This document is crucial for anticipating situations where you might be unable to make decisions for yourself due to incapacitation. With a power of attorney, you designate an individual to make key decisions on your behalf. These decisions can be financial, healthcare-related, or even legal, depending on the type of power of attorney you choose.

    Healthcare Directive

    Also known as a living will, this document allows you to lay out your preferences for medical treatment in scenarios where you are unable to communicate your wishes. Along with specifying treatment preferences, you can also appoint a healthcare proxy – a person entrusted to make healthcare decisions for you, based on your outlined preferences.

    Beneficiary Designations

    In estate planning, it’s important to remember that not all assets go through your will. Certain assets, like life insurance policies and retirement accounts, allow you to name beneficiaries directly. These designations are crucial as they enable these assets to bypass the probate process, ensuring a more direct and often quicker transfer to your named beneficiaries.

    Guardianship Designations

    For those with minor children, one of the most critical components of estate planning in Illinois is the appointment of a guardian. This ensures that, in your absence, your children are cared for by the person you trust most, rather than leaving the decision to the courts.

    Common Estate Planning Mistakes

    When estate planning Oak Brook, IL residents rely on experienced lawyers who can help plan for the future. Although many people may procrastinate when developing an estate plan, believing they have time to plan for the future, it’s essential not to delay for several reasons. Putting off the process can be highly problematic for several reasons. For example, without a plan, the testator loses their ability to have their wishes carried out, and family, amongst their grief, will be left to decipher what comes next. It’s important to note that even those who develop an estate plan are susceptible to making mistakes during the process. Because of this, it’s important to consider speaking with Bott & Associates, LTD, to avoid the many pitfalls of estate planning. 

    Making Mistakes with Beneficiary Designations 

    When mapping out your wishes, one of the most important aspects of estate planning is making beneficiary designations. There is far more involved than just choosing a beneficiary for assets. Testators must consider several factors when doing so. It’s vital to ensure the person of your choosing receives the assets allocated to them. To ensure this, it’s essential to indicate your wishes by ensuring that beneficiaries are named on accounts such as 401ks, life insurance policies, and payable upon death accounts. An Oak Brook estate planning lawyer will share that, in addition, you must not only communicate your wishes to prospective beneficiaries but also name backups in case the person initially named passes away. Lastly, it’s crucial to have a plan for minors who may be designated as beneficiaries by having a guardianship plan and trust in place to safeguard their inheritance. 

    Not Planning for Minors

    When the testator has minor children to consider, it’s essential to make a clear plan that involves several important variables. Minor children need to have a guardian assigned to care for them (don’t forget to name backups) and a plan for how they will be financially cared for until they become adults. An estate plan can carefully outline how a child will be cared for, and a trust can help determine how their inheritance should be distributed as they reach adulthood. Failure to carefully plan for minors can be catastrophic for several reasons; with no one assigned to care for them, families may fight over guardianship, which, amidst grief, can make the loss of a loved one especially difficult. Also, note that without a responsible person to oversee a child’s inheritance, it’s possible that the funds designated for minor children could be squandered. 

    Creating Your Own Estate Plan

    It can be tempting to consider developing an estate plan with the many estate planning tools available on the market today. While this may seem like a more affordable option over the services that a lawyer can provide, it’s not recommended. There are several dangers associated with using an automated estate planning tool, including:
    • Automated software may not take into account state laws
    • There is not a professional to ensure that all avenues are considered
    • There is no professional to advise on things you may not have considered
    • The estate plan may not protect assets from probate
    • In the long run, a DIY estate planning tool may be more costly as the will and estate plan may be out of date and irrelevant when the time comes
    While this is not an exhaustive list of mistakes that can be made, there is a vast array of problems that a testator could make. Whether they have forgotten to update their plan or put off developing an estate plan altogether, having a lawyer available for Oak Brook estate planning is imperative to developing a plan for the future that leaves nothing up for consideration. Bott & Associates, LTD have an experienced team of lawyers who can help their clients put together a plan that is well thought out and provides peace of mind in knowing that there is a plan for the future. 

    Understanding Illinois Estate Planning Laws: Your Roadmap To A Secure Future

    Estate planning is a pivotal process that empowers individuals and families to make informed decisions regarding their assets, healthcare, and legacy, but this process often requires the help of an Oak Brook, IL estate planning lawyer. In Oak Brook, Illinois, comprehending the nuances of state-specific estate planning laws is essential when preparing for the future. At Bott & Associates, Ltd., our seasoned Oak Brook estate planning lawyers are well-versed in the intricate web of Illinois estate planning laws, and they’re here to guide you through the process. Let’s explore the critical aspects of estate planning in Illinois and how our legal expertise can help you protect your legacy.

    Illinois Probate Process

    The probate process in Illinois is a legal procedure that commences following the death of an individual, with the primary aim of settling their estate. This process is multifaceted and involves several key stages, each crucial for the lawful and orderly distribution of the deceased’s assets.

    Filing a Petition

    The probate process begins when a petition is filed with a probate court in Illinois. This initial step involves submitting legal documentation to officially open the estate for probate. The petition is typically filed by an executor named in the will, or if there’s no will, by a close relative or interested party. This stage is foundational, as it marks the formal start of the estate’s administration under court supervision.

    Notice to Heirs and Creditors

    Once the estate is opened, the next step is to notify all potential heirs and creditors. This is a crucial part of the process because it allows heirs to be aware of the proceedings and gives creditors the opportunity to make claims against the estate for any debts owed by the deceased. Proper notification ensures that all interested parties are informed and have the chance to assert their rights or claims in accordance with Illinois law.

    Inventory and Appraisal

    In this phase, a detailed inventory of the estate’s assets is compiled, and an appraisal is conducted to determine their value. This step is vital as it establishes the basis for how the estate will be managed and eventually distributed. It involves cataloging all assets, such as real estate, bank accounts, investments, personal property, and any other items of value that belonged to the deceased.

    Payment of Debts and Taxes

    Before assets can be distributed to heirs, the estate must settle its outstanding debts. This includes paying any taxes owed. The executor or administrator of the estate is responsible for ensuring that all legitimate creditor claims and tax obligations are satisfied. This step is important for clearing the estate of liabilities and for determining the net value of the estate available for distribution to heirs and beneficiaries.

    Asset Distribution

    The final stage of the probate process in Illinois is the distribution of the estate’s remaining assets. If the deceased had a valid will, the assets are distributed according to its terms. In the absence of a will, Illinois’ intestacy laws dictate how the assets are to be divided. This stage marks the conclusion of the probate process, with the estate’s assets being transferred to the rightful heirs or beneficiaries. Each of these stages requires careful adherence to legal procedures and regulations, often necessitating the guidance of a probate attorney to ensure compliance with Illinois law. The probate process can be complex, particularly for larger estates or when disputes arise among heirs or creditors.

    Why You Need An Oak Brook Estate Planning Lawyer

    Estate planning in Illinois is not just about creating documents; it’s about crafting a comprehensive plan tailored to your unique circumstances. Here’s how our Oak Brook estate planning lawyers at Bott & Associates, Ltd. can assist you:
    1. Legal Proficiency: Our experienced estate planning lawyers have a profound understanding of Illinois estate planning laws. We will work hard to customize your estate plan so that it matches your specific needs.
    2. Asset Preservation: We assist you in developing strategies to safeguard your assets against unnecessary taxes and probate expenses.
    3. Peace of Mind: Estate planning offers the peace of mind that your loved ones will be cared for, and your legacy will be preserved according to your wishes.
    4. Ongoing Support: Your estate plan may need adjustments over time due to changes in your life or revisions to Illinois laws. Our legal team provides continuous support and updates.
    With more people having a larger presence on the internet, implementing digital estate planning is essential. As more and more people are using apps and other online communication methods to manage their finances, there is a legitimate risk of being a victim from unauthorized parties who are trying to gain access into your accounts. Creating a digital estate plan allows you to cover your bases and utilize a number of legal strategies so that your entire estate plan is not only continually up to date, but protected and secured.  “But wait,” you may be thinking, “I can’t map out my digital footprint in an estate plan because it changes all the time.” This is a valid concern. Thankfully, almost all estate planning documents are meant to be “living” in nature. This means that you can update them as often as you need to as your life circumstances and preferences change. Whenever a major event in your life happens, such as the addition of a new child or loss of a family member, you can update your digital estate plan as necessary. It is one of the key benefits of having an estate plan in a digital format. Additionally, please know that our lawyer team understands how to account for the ever-changing nature of digital footprints when constructing a digital estate planning strategy. 

    Digital Estate Planning Considerations

    Think about the number of times each day you log on to an account. Each account is likely password protected. If you were to become incapacitated or to pass away tomorrow, do you have any way of relaying how to gain access to those accounts? Who would you like to have access to them? Who would you like to prohibit from accessing them? What do you want done with the information, assets, and/or intellectual property contained on these accounts? These are the primary subject matters that digital estate planning concerns itself with. By working with a qualified lawyer that clients trust  now, you’ll better ensure that your online life—and anything stored on any of your devices—is handled according to your preferences later.  

    Preparing a Digital Estate Plan 

    There are several things that you need to know when you are preparing a digital estate plan, as an estate planning lawyer can explain. To begin preparing your plan, organize all of your digital assets and find out the value for each asset. You will need to gather the login information for each as well. Determining how to best organize your accounts can be difficult, but a lawyer will be able to assist you. If you need help with this step you can consult with a lawyer so that they will review your assets and see if the information is correct.  Examples of digital assets include the following: 
    • Banking accounts
    • Retirement accounts
    • Email accounts
    • Social media accounts 
    A lawyer who has knowledge about digital assets can provide you more information if you are not sure what other accounts fall under the digital asset category. 

    Things to Include in Your Plan 

    When you make your digital estate plan, there are key things that you want to specify. Unlike a regular will, the information within a digital estate plan should be kept out of the public eye so that you can control who has access to sensitive personal information regarding your digital assets. Some of the areas that you may want to address in your plan include: 
    • How you want to protect your digital assets
    • Who your digital executor will be
    • Where your digital estate plan will be located
    Figuring how to approach each of these topics can be unclear and confusing to figure out, but having a skilled and experienced lawyer at your side can help you accomplish these tasks more quickly. If you are struggling to understand certain legal concepts, do not hesitate to ask a lawyer so that you are putting your estate plan together correctly.

    Oak Brook Estate Planning Law Statistics

    According to a survey conducted by senior living referral service Caring.com, almost 70 percent of people do not have an estate plan in place. Reasons cited by survey participants include:
    • Forty percent say they just haven’t gotten around to it.
    • Thirty-three percent said they don’t have enough assets to pass on to their loved ones.
    • Thirteen percent said putting an estate plan in place is too expensive.
    • Twelve percent said they don’t know how to go about writing a will.

    Oak Brook Estate Planning FAQs

    Why Do I Need a Lawyer to Make an Estate Plan?

    Technically, you can put together your estate plan on your own, but by doing so you would be foregoing the knowledge and experience of a trained estate planning lawyer in Oak Brook, IL, which is not recommended. There are many strategies and tips that a lawyer can provide you with that will save you both time and money, as well as help you put together the plan that you really want, rather than just one that will work. Your lawyer will discuss your goals and wishes with you to get an idea of what your ideal options are and walk you through the entire process, making it as smooth and painless as possible.

    When Should I Create My Estate Plan?

    The best time to create an estate plan is always now because you never know when it will be too late. Even if you know that you will need to make updates to it in the future, it is wise to get something down in writing that is legal with an Oak Brook estate planning lawyer, just to be safe. Then, when it’s time to make changes, you can talk with your lawyer about your new needs and goals for your estate plan. Waiting too long could leave your family without the funds they will need to live and unsure of your wishes. 

    Is there an Income Minimum for Creating an Estate Plan?

    There is no income requirement necessary to create an estate plan, and they are not just for the wealthy. No matter how much you have to leave behind, having an estate plan will help to ensure that it goes to your loved ones instead of to the state first and foremost. Your estate planning lawyer will not judge your income but help you evaluate your options and walk you through plans that would be a good fit for you and your situation. 

    What is a Good Amount to Leave my Kids?

    When deciding what to leave to whom, there are many factors that you will want to consider, and your lawyer can explain those to you and provide advice. Some of the things that your lawyer will want to discuss with you will be the ages of your kids, how much you will have available to leave, any special circumstances or wishes you have, and more. We know that this is new for you, but your lawyer has the experience you need to come out with a plan that you’re comfortable with and that meets your goals and wishes. 

    How do I make My Estate Plan Legal?

    One of the key factors in creating an estate plan is to ensure that it is filed properly and legally, which is a task that you can leave to your Oak Brook estate planning lawyer. When you work on your estate plan with a lawyer from Bott & Associates, Ltd, you will not have to worry about the details of preparing the plan so that it is legal, because that is something that they will handle for you, making it a less stressful process for you, knowing that everything is being taken care of for you. 

    Oak Brook Estate Planning Infographic

    The Key Components of Estate Planning Infographic

    Get In Touch

    If you reside in Oak Brook, Illinois, and need assistance with estate planning or want to review your existing plan, we encourage you to contact Bott & Associates, Ltd. for a confidential consultation. Our experienced Oak Brook estate planning lawyers will collaborate with you to craft a comprehensive estate plan tailored to your specific needs and goals. Secure your family’s future and protect your legacy – reach out to us today to work with an Oak Brook estate planning lawyer.

    Legal Assistance Is Available

    If you have not yet created an estate plan, the experienced Illinois legal team at Bott & Associates, Ltd. can help you to accomplish this critically important task. Our legal team can also assist you with updating your existing estate plan documentation if you already have some drafted. Either way, know that your proactive efforts now will help to ensure that your wishes are honored later. Our Oak Brook, IL estate planning lawyer team looks forward to assisting you.

    Bott & Associates, Ltd., Oak Brook Estate Planning Lawyer

    3701 W Algonquin Rd #712, Rolling Meadows, IL 60008