Tag: estate

What Is an Executor’s Job in Illinois?

If you have been appointed the executor of an estate or are choosing your own executor, you might have questions about the job of an executor in Illinois. Executors are in charge of distributing the estates of people who have passed away.

  1. Identifying Estate Assets

First, an executor’s job involves identifying estate assets. The deceased person might have kept assets all over the world or not told anyone about certain accounts. To distribute the assets, the executor must find them first. He or she also needs to find the assets to determine if the estate must be distributed with oversight of the Illinois probate courts. Smaller estates that do not include real estate do not have to go through probate.

  1. When the Executor Must Go to Probate Court

If the executor realizes that the estate has a value over $100,000 or that the deceased person owns real estate, then the executor needs to file with the probate court. The court reviews the will and officially appoints the executor to handle estate distribution. In addition, the court requires the executor to notify creditors that the estate is being probated, get valuations of property if needed, and locate heirs.

  1. When No Probate Court Is Required

When the estate has a lower value and no real estate, the executor can simply proceed to gather the assets, identify heirs, and distribute the assets to the heirs. This process can take less time than probate court. Delays occur when there is difficulty locating assets or heirs – as when they are located in other states or countries, or the deceased person has left little information about their location.

  1. Taxes and Other Business

Beyond just distributing assets, the executor is responsible for paying taxes for the deceased person. This includes not only filing the deceased person’s federal income taxes for his or her year of death, but also preparing an estate tax return if the estate is above a certain value (in the millions of dollars). The executor also has to handle state and local taxes.

Finally, the executor remains in charge until all estate assets have been distributed (including until any required property sales have closed), all disputes have settled, and all taxes are paid. At that point, he or she is discharged of the demanding duties of an executor.

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.

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.

Choosing an Executor for Your Will: An Illinois Overview

You might have difficulty choosing an appropriate executor for your will without some guidance. An executor fulfills an important role in distributing an estate, so your choice could really matter for your heirs.

What Types of Tasks Must an Executor Do for Your Estate?

Executors do a lot of different kinds of tasks when distributing assets to heirs named in wills. For example, they might:

  • Get copies of the death certificate
  • Make funeral arrangements
  • Locate far-flung heirs
  • Arrange an estate sale
  • Attend probate court hearings
  • Send notices to creditors
  • Identify and retain professionals such as an accountant and lawyer

These wide-ranging tasks may not be suitable for everyone. You should carefully select an executor who is responsible and timely in following directions and finishing tasks.

Your executor does not have to have financial or legal expertise, but it may help. Many people choose relatives as executors. The relatives then have to spend the estate’s money on professionals to help with taxes and other estate distribution tasks. As a result, heirs may receive less money than they would if the executor already had financial knowledge or other special skills.

Who Could You Choose as an Executor?

Again, a lot of people select a relative as an executor. Although it could be a bad idea to pick someone who directly benefits from the will if multiple people inherit, people often still pick their spouse as executor. Others select more distant relatives. Alternatively, you could choose a close friend or business partner.

Some people may opt for an estate planning lawyer or even a financial institution as an executor. The advantage of choosing a lawyer is that he or she already knows the law and understands an executor’s responsibilities. Plus the lawyer can go to court if necessary. Financial institutions have resources and experience as well, but they are costly. The money to pay the lawyer or institution comes out of the estate, so people with smaller estate may want to make a different choice. In any case, picking the right executor is important – speak to your estate planning lawyer for more help.

Want assistance choosing an executor for 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.

Credit Card Debt and Estate Planning in Illinois

If you have significant credit card debt, you may wonder if the debt will affect your estate planning or if it will cause problems for your heirs. Not accounting for money you owe on credit cards could have surprising consequences. As a result, your estate plan may need to factor in your credit card debt and try to minimize its impact on inheritances.

Will Credit Card Debt Stick Around After Death?

Your debts unfortunately do not simply disappear after you pass away. Credit card companies still want to collect their money, whether it is from you or from your estate. In Illinois, the probate process for distributing estates allows creditors to make claims against an estate. They must receive notice of the debtor’s death from the executor, and then they have a limited time period to assert their claims to the court.

In addition, creditors can seek repayment from co-account holders. Surviving co-account holders still have the obligation to make payments on the credit card debt after one account holder passes away.

Will Credit Card Debt Reduce Inheritances for Your Heirs?

Provided that an estate has enough money, the executor will have to pay off the creditors before distributing inheritances to heirs listed in the will. Any creditor who made a valid claim will receive a payment from the estate. The heirs would receive whatever is left over in the estate. If the total estate assets are not large enough to pay all the debts, then the executor will make partial payments to creditors. However, the heirs would receive nothing.

How Can Estate Planning Help with Credit Card Debt?

If you have substantial credit card debt, you may want to take advantage of estate planning structures that protect assets from creditors. For example, properly drafted irrevocable trusts remove assets from your probate estate. As a result, the executor cannot use the assets to pay back creditors, and the creditors cannot levy them.

Further, you can make lifetime gifts to your chosen heirs instead of gifting in your will. Doing so gets the money directly to the heirs without the requirement of probate. Other estate planning structures and techniques can achieve similar results. If you have credit card debt and are concerned about its effect on your family and heirs, consider how an estate plan can help.

In debt and 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.