Tag: assets

You Already Have a Will. Do You Need More Estate Planning?

If you already have a will, you may think that you do not need more estate planning. Often, this is not the case. Additional estate planning can help you reach different goals and gain more peace of mind.

Doesn’t Your Will Dispose of Your Whole Estate?

A will explains how your executor should distribute any assets named in the will to your chosen heirs. Most wills have clauses at the end saying that any other assets in the estate go to a specific person. However, estate planning does not just concern distributing assets. Other issues that people tackle with estate plans include:

  • Controlling distribution of wealth to relatives even after death
  • Minimizing tax liability and probate fees
  • Giving to charity
  • Appointing someone to make medical or financial decisions if they cannot
  • Expressing wishes for end-of-life care
  • Protecting children and spouse for years to come

A will cannot necessarily accomplish all of these goals. If you feel that they are important to you, then you probably need additional estate planning.

Which Other Estate Planning Options Could You Use?

In Illinois, residents have many estate planning options available to them besides just a will. For example, you could consider:

  • Creating a family trust
  • Starting a charitable trust
  • Taking out life insurance
  • Changing beneficiary designations on retirement accounts
  • Signing a medical power of attorney
  • Signing a financial power of attorney
  • Making a guardian designation
  • Doing gift and estate tax planning

All of these options have different benefits that can help you reach your goals. For example, if you want to protect your children and spouse after you pass away, you might consider making a guardian designation, taking out life insurance, and creating a trust in your children’s benefit. All those structures can be set up in addition to a will that leaves assets to your spouse and children. If you are interested in expanding your estate plan beyond a will, talk to your estate planning lawyer about your options.

Want to start planning your estate? Local attorney Andrew Szocka, Esq. provides thorough and speedy estate planning help in the Chicagoland area. To schedule a free initial consultation, visit the Law Office of Andrew Szocka, P.C. online or call the office at (815) 455-8430.

What Is a Pour-Over Will, and Do You Need One?

A pour-over will helps many people have peace of mind that after they are gone, their chosen relatives or friends will be protected. This popular and easy to create estate planning structure “pours over” all or some of your assets into a trust.

How Does a Pour-Over Will Work?

To create a pour-over will, you need to sign both (1) a will that includes special language, and (2) a trust. The will specifies that you leave all of your assets (or just some of them) to the trust. The trust can operate during your lifetime, and you can place assets into it then if you wish.

After you pass away, your executor and the trustee simply ensure that all your assets go straight into the trust. There is very little estate administration beyond that task (just filing taxes and the like). A pour-over will greatly simplifies the estate distribution process.

Once the assets move into the trust, your trustee should manage the assets and invest them prudently. Your chosen beneficiaries can receive distributions from the trust, on a regular schedule, on a discretionary basis, or for basic support needs.

Why Should You Create a Pour-Over Will?

Pour-over wills provide many benefits for people who create them, their executors, and their relatives who inherit. These benefits include:

  • Reducing the cost of probate or eliminating the need for it altogether
  • Simplifying the estate distribution process
  • Controlling distributions of your assets to relatives or other beneficiaries after your death
  • Potentially saving your estate tax and administration costs

Creating a pour-over will and accompanying trust also takes very little time or effort if you work with a knowledgeable lawyer. Before you meet with the lawyer, think about which assets you want to place in the trust, rather than giving them to heirs through direct bequests in your will. Also consider who you will choose as the trust beneficiaries and who would be best suited as a trustee. Giving some thought to these questions will help you prepare for the lawyer’s questions and get your estate plan made efficiently.

Want to start planning your estate? Local attorney Andrew Szocka, Esq. provides thorough and speedy estate planning help in the Chicagoland area. To schedule a free initial consultation, visit the Law Office of Andrew Szocka, P.C. online or call the office at (815) 455-8430.

Do You Need a Will If You Already Have a Pension?

If you already pay into a pension from your employer, you may feel that a will is unnecessary. The pension will provide money for your family even if you are not earning. You should know, however, that a will can help your family in different ways.

Saving Time and Expense in Distributing Your Estate

In short, a will explains who you want to receive which of your assets when your estate is distributed after you pass away. A pension, in contrast, does not distribute any assets besides the money that you and your employer put into the plan while you worked. You may have many different kinds of assets, such as a house, a car, stocks, bonds, cash, and other valuables.

Without a legal document explaining how you want the asset distribution performed, the court or family members will have to follow the order of intestate succession. This order favors spouse and children, with other family members inheriting only if you aren’t married, don’t have children, or some of them have passed away. Not only is intestate succession sometimes inequitable, it also does not necessarily reflect your wishes. Making a will can save your family the time and expense of going to court and the stress of figuring out who inherits what.

A Pension Is Never Guaranteed

Although people may think that they will receive their pensions as long as they work hard, the truth is quite different. Unfortunately, pension providers can deny payments for many reasons, including:

  • Not enough years of service to the company
  • A break in employment
  • Early retirement
  • Not meeting other pension “vesting” criteria

You may want to check with your employee benefits coordinator to verify that you are on track to receive the pension. Regardless, doing some additional estate planning to settle your affairs along with the expected pension payment is a good idea.

Making a will to distribute your estate is often the first step. You may want to invest in life insurance, form a trust, or designate relatives as beneficiaries of your 401(k) or IRA. There are many estate planning options available to give you peace of mind, even if you have a pension already.

Want to start estate planning today? Local attorney Andrew Szocka, Esq. provides thorough and speedy estate planning help in the Chicagoland area. To schedule a free initial consultation, visit the Law Office of Andrew Szocka, P.C. online or call the office at (815) 455-8430.

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