Experienced Estate Planning Lawyer in Tinley Park, Cook County, and Throughout Chicagoland
Oftentimes, when people plan to prepare wills and other estate planning documents they turn to common document preparation companies that furnish one-size-fits-all forms without providing any legal advice. Such a tactic often leads to problems and disputes when the will is probated. Sometimes, the documents do not accurately reflect the wishes of the deceased. Other times, because the proper signing procedures were not carried out to the letter, the will may be unenforceable.
Contrast that impersonal and risky experience with the one you receive at the Law Offices of Eric Zelazny. Mr. Zelazny, who is also a CPA, personally meets and greets all clients to make them feel at home. Next, before the documents are even discussed, our thoughtful professionals take the time to learn about you, your family, and your financial goals. Only then is the will tailored to your needs and prepared for signature. However, the job is not quite complete. We also set up a fully-compliant will signing ceremony and take the time to answer any lingering questions you may have.
Components of a Will
A will may be as brief as a few paragraphs or as long as some novels. The basic requirements include:
- The will must be a single written document. Handwritten cross-outs or add-ons may not be enforceable.
- A testator or testatrix (the man or woman who makes a will) must be at least 18 and be of sound mind.
- There must be at least two competent witnesses.
A will may be altered by executing a codicil. However, to avoid confusion, the better practice is to physically destroy the old document and execute an entirely new one. All wills must be probated to become legally enforceable; most wills qualify for an independent administration. This expedited process has additional safeguards that protect the family’s privacy.
Which Trust is Right?
Broadly speaking, a trust is like a will for your money. It determines ownership and use of items like revenue-producing property, financial accounts, and rewards accounts. Some common types of trusts in Illinois include:
- Living Trust: In this model, settlors (the people who make a trust) transfer ownership of their assets to another entity while they are still living. Many settlors designate themselves as the trustee. Assets can be added or deleted almost at will. There are also some significant drawbacks in terms of asset protection. A living trust can be revocable or irrevocable (able to be changed or not once the trust is finalized) depending on your individual wishes.
- Irrevocable Life Insurance Trust: A life Insurance trust keeps life insurance benefits, and any cash value, away from creditors. Moreover, unlike other trusts, it need not be funded straightaway to take effect.
- Irrevocable Children’s Trust: Children’s trusts take assets out of your estate and place them into a trust for your children. In most cases, beneficiary children become outright owners at age 21.
- Charitable Remainder Trust: Charitable trusts are ideal for gifts of revenue-producing property. The property goes to charity, the settlor gets a tax write-off, and the income goes to the settlor for life.
Other types of trusts include Medicaid trusts that may assist seniors in the qualifying process, land trusts that can guard real property against lawsuits, and a qualified residence trust that transfers title to a homestead.
A will and trust are the fundamental building blocks of an estate plan. For prompt assistance, contact the Law Offices of Eric Zelazny at 708-888-2299 for a free consultation. Our skilled estate planning attorneys serve clients in Joliet, Tinley Park, Chicago, Mokena, Will County, DuPage County, Cook County, and the surrounding Illinois communities.