The death of a loved one is a difficult prospect for many people, but it is one that must be planned for, especially if you own a substantial amount of money or property. A well-rounded estate plan from a good Wills & Trusts attorney will ensure that your family is taken care of after your death and that your wishes are carried out exactly how you want them to be.
In addition to settling how your wealth and properties will be distributed, a good Wills & Trusts lawyer in Chicago will help you prepare for the possibility of incapacitation. A comprehensive estate plan will include a healthcare directive power of attorney, HIPAA authorization, and property-related power of attorney. Your attorney can also assist you in setting up a living trust to avoid the lengthy and costly probate process.
Depending on your situation, your attorney can set up irrevocable trusts, special needs trusts, and revocable living trusts to provide the maximum tax benefits for your family. If your family member has special needs, a trust can be used to allow them to inherit personal assets without disqualifying them from public assistance.
Your Wills & Trusts attorney can help you draft documents to address the specific needs of your family members. He or she can use a variety of legal language to express your desires, and to minimize the possibility of disputes over the interpretation of your document. This is important because many estate disputes involve sentimental items, such as heirlooms or precious family photos.
It is not uncommon for people to fight over their inheritances, even when the money or property at issue is relatively small. The best Wills & Trusts attorneys can minimize the chances of such disputes by making sure that your documentation is clear and easy to understand.
A good Wills & Trusts attorney will also advise you on how to structure your trusts and other estate planning instruments in order to minimize taxes. This is an important consideration because high taxes can significantly reduce the amount of money or property that your family receives after you pass away. Your attorney can also help you develop strategies that may qualify your estate for a discount or charitable deduction.
The right Wills & Trusts attorney can also assist you with the settlement of your debts and liabilities after your death, and the management and maintenance of your property. He or she can advise you on how to transfer your real property, bank accounts, and other valuables into your trust to avoid costly probate. He or she can also explain the advantages of a living trust to protect your assets and help you avoid taxes after your death. Finally, your attorney can assist you with other estate and trust matters such as contested wills, beneficiaries, or breaches of fiduciary duty. If you suspect that undue influence, coercion, or fraud was involved when a person created their Will or trust, you may be able to take legal action.