Wills Attorneys in Skokie, Illinois
Planning for the future isn't simply about securing financial stability; it's also about ensuring that your wishes are respected and your loved ones are protected. This is where a will comes into play. A well-drafted will can provide peace of mind and prevent potential disputes down the line.
At Alexander | Grossman Attorneys at Law, we're committed to providing you with the guidance and support you need to navigate these complexities. We understand that everyone's situation is unique, and what works for one person may not work for another. That's why we take a personalized approach to legal counsel, tailoring our services to meet your specific needs and circumstances. If you are in the Skokie, Illinois, area — including Cook County and Lake County — reach out to us today for support.
Overview of A Will
A will is more than just a legal document — it's a declaration of your intentions. It outlines how your assets and property should be distributed after your passing and ensures that your wishes are carried out. Whether it's appointing guardians for minor children, designating beneficiaries, or specifying funeral arrangements, a will covers a wide range of aspects related to estate planning.
Types of Wills
Understanding the different types of wills is crucial. Each type serves a unique purpose, designed to cater to the specificities of varied situations. Understanding them helps you gain a clear insight into their functionalities and purposes and discern which type aligns best with your personal circumstances and objectives.
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Simple Wills: Often used when the estate and the wishes of the testator (the person writing the will) are straightforward. It includes basic directives on asset distribution and may name a guardian for minor children.
Testamentary Trust Wills: Useful for individuals who want to place conditions on asset distribution. This type of will establishes a trust and names a trustee who will manage and distribute the assets according to the testator's instructions. Testamentary trusts are not the preferred method for a trust, as they do not allow you to fund the trust during your lifetime, and therefore do not avoid probate. They are also more complicated to change.
Joint Wills: While these used to be common among married couples, we do not recommend a joint will. A joint will stipulates that the surviving spouse will inherit the entire estate. Upon the death of the second spouse, the assets will then be distributed among the designated beneficiaries. However, a joint will creates a binding contract among the couple and does not allow either party to change the will without the cooperation of the other one. Where this creates issues particularly is if one spouse passes away, the surviving spouse can no longer change their will, even if their life situation changes.
Living Wills: Although it has the name Will in its title, a living will is actually a healthcare documents. Living wills deal with healthcare decisions rather than asset distribution. A living will lays out the testator's wishes regarding life-sustaining procedures in case they become unable to communicate their decisions due to illness or incapacity. However, living wills are really not used much anymore, as they have been replaced with the Power of Attorney for Healthcare. A living will's problem is that while it lays out someone's wishes, it doesn't give anyone the ability to execute those decisions on behalf of the patient. Also, as medical technology changes, the living will may not keep up. Instead of living wills, we now prepare a Power of Attorney for Healthcare, which appoints an agent to make your medical decisions for you if you are incapacitated.
Holographic Wills: These are handwritten wills and do not require the presence of a witness. They are often used when the testator has limited time and resources, but they may not be recognized as valid in some jurisdictions. We do not recommend relying on a handwritten will, as will laws are specific and if not complied with, a will may be invalid.
Pour-Over Wills: Designed for individuals who have established a trust, a pour-over will ensures any assets not included in the trust at the time of the testator's death will be transferred into it.
Each type of will serves a specific purpose and is designed to cater to different situations and needs. It's important to consider personal circumstances, the complexity of the estate, and future contingencies when choosing the type of will that best suits your needs.
Content of the Will
A well-crafted will should include key information such as the identification of beneficiaries, the appointment of an executor, and the distribution of assets. It's crucial to provide clear and specific instructions to avoid any confusion or disputes. You can also include provisions for charitable donations, or the nomination of guardians for minor children if you have them. Our team is experienced in drafting comprehensive and legally sound wills.
Commonly Inherited Assets
When creating a will, you should consider the assets that will be passed on to your beneficiaries. These could include real estate properties, financial accounts, investments, personal belongings, and family heirlooms. By clearly identifying these assets in your will, you ensure that they're distributed according to your wishes.
Why Having a Will is Important
Without a will, your estate falls under the laws of intestacy, meaning the state's inheritance laws determine how your assets are distributed. This can lead to outcomes that don't align with your intentions or the needs of your loved ones. By having a will, you maintain control over who receives your assets and how they're distributed.
Probate is the legal process through which a will is validated and executed. It involves the court granting authority to your executor (representative of your estate) to act on behalf of the executor as they inventory and collect your assets, and then ultimately distribute them. While the court oversees the distribution of assets and the payment of debts and taxes (if required, currently only initially implicated on estates with assets of over $5 million), a well drafted will can help you avoid a court "supervised administration", with a preference for independent administration, where the executor can act with little intervention, only a final sign off required by the court. A properly drafted will can streamline the probate process and minimize potential delays and complications.
Difference Between a Will and a Trust
While a will is a legal document that takes effect upon your death, a trust is created during your lifetime and can offer additional benefits. Unlike a will, a trust allows for the management and distribution of assets without going through probate. It can also offer more privacy and flexibility in terms of asset protection and tax planning. Another important benefit of a trust is that it allows for delayed distribution of assets to children. While you cannot control when you pass away, you can control the age at which your children would receive distributions from a trust, as well as put limitations on the use of the money that goes to them from the trust
Wills Attorneys in Skokie, Illinois
Don't leave your future to chance. Secure it with a well-drafted will. We're ready to help you take the first step towards securing your future and protecting your loved ones.
Whether you're considering creating a will or need assistance with other estate planning matters, we're here to help. At Alexander | Grossman Attorneys at Law, we've been serving the Skokie, Illinois community for years, providing personalized and reliable legal representation.