AJP Law Firm helps process, organize and arrange an individual's assets, during the individual's lifetime, in order to fulfill our client's wishes to minimize costs and taxes after their death.
Properly prepared estate planning documents create enforceable legal instructions for your family, doctors, and beneficiaries. Effective estate planning can reduce the possibility of confusion and legal challenges following incapacity or death. The growing complexities in our society also requires greater attention to estate planning decisions and how existing laws affect the distribution of estate assets.
AJP Law Firm handles matters of estate planning, including creating wills, trusts and Power of Attorney. Our attorneys design plans customized to meet your unique needs and help ensure a secure future for those closest to you. We advise you on the advantages of various estate planning tools, and draft most-effective estate planning documents to serve your custom needs and preserve your wishes including Powers of Attorney and Health Care Powers of Attorney, which are important components of your overall estate plans.
We provide practical solutions to estate planning and asset protection concerns to accomplish your wishes, including maintaining management, control of your estate and their distribution to your designated beneficiaries; ensureyour financial privacy, obtaining peace of mind, and avoid unnecessary taxes. This will save your family from the time, expense, grief and hassle of guardianship and probate proceedings. Your family can benefit from a seamless transition between many generations and importantly, minimize estate and gift taxes and protect your beneficiaries' interests.
Client Estate Planning Timeline
Outline of our typical Estate Planning process:
- Basic information from you – family structure and relationships, personal objectives
- Initial Conference
- Assess financing structures (both personal and business)
- Drafts of Estate Planning Documents
- Phone conference with optional screenshare to discuss edits
- Signing Ceremony
- Receiving Estate Planning Portfolio
- Funding Phase.
Estate Planning Documents
Some of the documents the AJP Law Firm can provide to help with your estate plans:
- Living Trusts
- Healthcare Powers of Attorney
- Durable Powers of Attorney
- Declarations of Desire to Die a Natural Death (living will)
Wills and Estate Plans in Illinois
A last will and testament (Will) is a document you create to instruct how you want your property distributed upon your death. If someone dies without a Will, this is known as dying "intestate." Should a person die intestate, the state will step in and distribute any property.
Each state's requirements of a Will and what makes it valid may differ somewhat, but all states have four requirements that are true no matter what.
The testator must have testamentary intent, meaning the testator subjectively intended to create the Will.
The testator must have testamentary capacity, meaning that they understood they were creating the Will at the time of its execution.
The Will must have been executed without the interference of fraud, duress, undue influence, or mistake.
The Will must have been duly executed through a proper ceremony––for example, signing the Will and having witnesses per your state's law were completed properly.
Trusts and Estate Plans in Illinois
A trust is a way for a property owner to pass their assets to someone else to protect the assets and to avoid the probate process, if applicable. The trustor, also referred to as the settlor or trust maker, is the owner of the property and transfers it to the trustee. The trustee is the one who manages the property for the benefit of someone else, known as the beneficiary. A beneficiary is a person or entity with whom the trust was established.
Trusts can have multiple trustors, trustees, and beneficiaries. Typically, a different person or entity serves each of these unique roles. Sometimes, though, the trustor can act as both the trustor and trustee. Likewise, in limited situations, the trustee can act as both the trustee and the beneficiary.
As part of an estate plan, a trust can be used to minimize estate taxes (for someone with high assets). But they offer other benefits, too, if well-crafted. A trust can keep your assets private even when you die because a trust does not need to go through probate, and probate is a matter of public record. Further, a trust can protect assets from creditors or help beneficiaries who cannot manage money well.
Whatever your need is for a trust, our estate planning lawyer can help make sure your trust is drafted in a way that benefits you and the intended beneficiaries.
Powers of Attorney and Estate Plans in Illinois
A power of attorney is the legal authorization for one person, the agent, to act on behalf of another person, the principal. Often called a letter of attorney or just a "POA", they are a common element of estate planning. POAs let a person who is losing their ability to manage their own affairs choose someone they trust to make decisions for them.
There are six types of POAs, described below.
1. Durable POA
A durable POA takes effect immediately upon your signature unless the POA states otherwise and allows your agent to continue acting on your behalf even when you are incapacitated. A durable POA terminates only when you die or when a revocation of a POA form is issued.
2. Non-durable POA
A non-durable POA takes effect immediately upon your signature unless the POA states otherwise. It does not allow your agent to continue acting on your behalf when you become incapacitated. In the latter scenario, only a court-appointed guardian or conservator can make decisions on your behalf.
3. Medical POA
A medical POA is sometimes referred to as an advance directive because it allows you to appoint a healthcare agent to make medical decisions for you when you cannot do so. It is limited by your specific medical preferences and any other directive you may have as part of your estate plan, like a living will or a Do Not Resuscitate (DNR) form.
4. General POA
A general POA allocates broad powers to the agent to act on financial, business, real estate, and legal matters. This POA is limited only by the terms set out in the POA or by any relevant state statute.
5. Limited (Special) POA
A limited (Special) POA allows the agent to act for a specific purpose and once that purpose is accomplished, the POA expires.
6. Springing POA
A springing POA takes effect if/when a certain event or medical condition occurs as specified in the POA. It ends at a specified time as outlined in the POA or if/when you become incapacitated or die.
Other Elements and Considerations in Estate Planning in Illinois
Estate planning also involves considering issues such as life insurance, retirement accounts, and charitable giving.
Life insurance can provide financial support for loved ones after one's passing, while retirement accounts can be structured to minimize taxes and maximize benefits for heirs. Charitable giving can also be an important component of estate planning, allowing individuals to support causes they care about and potentially reduce estate taxes.
Contact a Cook County Estate Planning Lawyer Today
Estate planning is a critical step in protecting one's assets and ensuring that one's wishes are respected after death. By working with an estate planning attorney, individuals can create a comprehensive estate plan that meets their unique needs and goals. With the right planning and preparation, individuals can leave a lasting legacy for their loved ones and support the causes they care about for years to come. Contact AJP Law Firm at (847) 998-9920 or by filling out the online form to schedule a free consultation with our Estate Planning attorney in Cook County today.