What will happen to your home, your financial assets and your personal possessions after your passing? More importantly, if you leave behind minor children, who will take care of them? These are questions that most people don’t like to think about, but should. It is said that the only two certainties in life are death and taxes. Whether you are a single individual just starting or a career or a recent empty-nester just starting to think about retirement, it’s never too early or too late to plan for the former.
A Will or Testament is a legal declaration by which you (the Testator) can name one or more persons (the Executors) to manage your estate and provide for the distribution of your property to anyone of your choosing (the Beneficiaries) upon your death. In Illinois, a probate proceeding will be initiated upon your death, meaning the court will decide on the validity of your Will, inventory & appraise your property, pay your debt and taxes, and distribute the remainder according to your Will. This can be a very lengthy and costly process.
Probate can be avoided all together by creating a Revocable Trust or a Living Trust. A Trust is a relationship whereby property is held by one party (the Trustee) for the benefit of another (the Beneficiary). In a Living Trust, you, the creator of the Trust (the Settlor) put all your assets into a Trust and name a Trustee to manage your assets for the Beneficiary. During your lifetime, you can be the Settlor, Trustee and Beneficiary. In other words, nothing has changed in that you are free to use your funds and assets freely for your own benefit. Also during your lifetime, the Trust is entirely revocable. However, you will also name a Successor Trustee or Trustees (reliable relatives or third-party professionals), and Successor Beneficiaries (typically your children, relatives and/or charities). Upon your death, the Trust becomes irrevocable, meaning it’s written in stone, and the Trust does not go into probate.
We can discuss your unique circumstances and determine which instrument or instruments are best suited for your needs.