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Estate Planning

Chicago Estate Planning Attorneys

Understanding the Essential Estate Planning Tools

The word “Estate” refers to property owned by a person who has passed away. It may also refer to property belonging to a disabled individual or minor. Wills, trusts, probate, and other matters are complex, and the personal and family relationships involved often further complicate the situation. Therefore, it is essential to retain an advisor with a thorough knowledge of the law who can help bridge the gap between you and the legal world.

Estate planning extends your intentions, values, and priorities to future circumstances in which you will not be able to actively participate. The goal is to produce a plan that will strengthen and preserve financial security for you and your loved ones. Your estate plan may include a will and a trust, or it may just include a will. Hays Firm LLC can help you draft a comprehensive plan that fits your needs.

We are attentive to the unique needs of our older clients and we look to create pragmatic estate plans for those individuals and families.

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Experienced estate planning attorneys at Hays Firm can provide the following legal services

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Hays Firm LLC will meet with clients to discuss their estate planning goals for the future. We will then be able to determine what new documents are needed, such as a will, trust, or advance directive, or if existing documents need to be revised.

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In the event that an estate plan is already in place, our experienced estate planning attorneys will provide guidance as to whether your previously executed estate plan, will, and trust will still accomplish your goals when the time comes.

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Once all documents have been reviewed, and it is determined that a new will or trust is not needed, the attorneys at Hays Firm LLC will draft any necessary amendments to the previously executed estate plans. This is the case when there has been only minor changes in any circumstances.

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Once we have established the needs, wishes, and circumstances of our clients, our experienced estate planning attorneys will create comprehensive, new estate planning documents that meet their goals, including wills, trusts, and power of attorney documents.

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It is essential that every document in the estate plan is accurate, clear, and true, so that there is no ambiguity in the future. At Hays Firm LLC, we are dedicated to working with our clients to ensure that their estate plan documents are valid and properly executed.

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We all know that life changes and progresses, and unexpected events can occur. Therefore, it is necessary to regularly review your estate plan documents to ensure that all items are up to date and valid. Our estate planning attorneys can make this process seamless and straightforward.

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A Power of Attorney for Healthcare is one of the most important documents in any estate plan. Hays Firm LLC attorneys will work with you to execute both this and Power of Attorney for Property documents to ensure that your financial and your health care decisions are made by a person you trust.

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A living will helps individuals express their medical decisions to their families and their medical care providers. Determining whether a living will is necessary to ensure that your wishes are honored can be complicated, and our attorneys can help navigate the process.

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What is Estate Planning?

Estate Planning is the process of planning for life-changing events like disability and death. The goal is to produce a plan that will strengthen and preserve financial security and order for your loved ones and yourself.

I do not consider myself as “wealthy.” Do I need an estate plan?

Some people think they don’t need to concern themselves about “estate planning” because their estate does not have great value. But, they are wrong. Estate planning focuses on the value of people, relationships, special concerns, and efficient and effective administration. The size of an estate is actually secondary to most estate planning issues.

What is considered part of my “estate” when planning for life-changing events?

When considering your personal assets, you must include privately owned life insurance, employer-provided life insurance, travelers life insurance, double indemnity-type life insurance, other accidental death life insurance, workers’ compensation coverage, personal injury claims, wrongful death claims, other employer-provided benefits, mortgage insurance, and other resources to which you, your estate, or your family might become entitled by reason of your death. The value of these items adds up fast.

I have a special needs child. How can I best plan for his or her future?

If you are the parent of a disabled child or adult, you will probably want to consider your child’s needs as part of your estate plan. State and federal laws require estate plans to include provisions for disabled adults without disrupting government benefits. If you have a disabled child or adult in your life, please contact one of our attorneys to discuss your estate plan options.

What are Power of Attorney Documents?

In a power of attorney document, an individual designates an agent to act for him or her. Only one agent may be chosen – Illinois law does not permit “co-agents”. Power of attorney documents can be very specific and apply in only limited circumstances, such as at a real estate closing. Or, power of attorney documents can be more general.

What are the benefits of having a Power of Attorney document?

Power of Attorney documents may be effective immediately or they may be drafted to be effective only after an individual is unable to make competent decisions. If you are diagnosed with dementia, or if your judgment becomes otherwise impaired, your agent will “step into your shoes” to make decisions to protect you and your estate and finances.

Therefore, it is essential that you pick someone you trust who will act with the utmost good faith to be your agent under a power of attorney document. The law provides penalties and civil remedies if your agent becomes the abuser.

With power of attorney documents in place, your identified agent can review or monitor your bank accounts and retirement savings funds. If a new “friend” comes into your life, your agent will be able to monitor your accounts and will notice when the first check is written.

The down side of power of attorney documents is that the aged person still has control of and access to all of their finances. Therefore, a vulnerable elderly person can be persuaded to go to the bank and remove funds for his or her new “friend.” The elderly person can still write checks and add new account owners and beneficiaries.

What are the duties of a Power of Attorney for Property?

When a person has been appointed as a Power of Attorney for Property, this means they can act for you in business or financial affairs. Your agent owes you a fiduciary duty, and is obligated, by Illinois Law, to “act in good faith for the best interest of the principal, using care, competence, and diligence.” This includes preserving your estate plan and cooperating with any other power of attorneys, such as one for Healthcare.

What is the Estate Tax?

The federal estate tax is a tax on property that passes from a deceased person’s estate to their heirs. It is worthwhile to note that this tax does not apply against assets transferred to the deceased’s spouse. Although the transfer to a spouse is exempt from estate tax, the tax will be levied once that spouse passes away and distributes the assets to the children. In order to take advantage of the full estate tax exclusion available to a married couple, a credit shelter trust must be established to preserve the full exemption amount for each of them. This, and other complex issues, must be addressed by a comprehensive estate plan.

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A will is simply the written declaration of a person’s intentions as to the disposition of his or her property. Even if you do not think you have much property or many assets, you still need a written will, especially if you have young children, because you are then able to nominate a guardian for your children, should something happen. It is unfortunately the case that people think that verbal expressions of their wishes are sufficient, but this is sadly not always the case as they are not legally binding, and circumstances may change after death. A written will is legally binding and will protect your wishes after your death, as they will be carried out by an executor named by you in the will itself.

How a living will differs from a normal will

How a Living Will Differs from a Normal Will

The Illinois Living Will Act allows individuals to express their decisions to their family and medical care providers, and it only applies to a person who is suffering from a terminal illness. Therefore, a living will is different from a normal will in that it comes into effect when the person is still alive, as it helps a person prepare for a time in which they are suffering from a terminal condition. If you are unsure about whether or not you need a living will, as well as a normal will, it is advisable to speak to an experienced estate planning attorney who will explain to you in detail the benefits of having one.

Planning for Incapacity

Planning for Incapacity with a Power of Attorney for Healthcare

Hays Firm LLC estate planning attorneys believe that individuals aged 50 and over should make a plan to provide for their care in case they become incapacitated. This means that, in your estate plan, you should nominate a Power of Attorney for Healthcare. This is a person (agent) to act on your behalf to make healthcare decisions when you are no longer mentally capable of making the decisions yourself. It is important to note that, because your agent may be making life- changing decisions about your health, it is of course imperative to name someone that you trust implicitly, and that would know your personal values and wishes, given the situation.

Intra-Family Loan

An Intra-Family Loan: The Benefits and Restrictions

It is natural to want to ensure that your children and loved ones become financially stable. One way to help them do this is with an intra-family loan. This is documented with a fully enforceable contract or promissory note, and will have the minimum interest rate, imposed by the IRS, which is typically lower than those offered by commercial lenders. Of course there are certain restrictions and limits to an intra-family loan, and it is important that regulations are followed, so as to avoid any tax implications. Our estate planning attorneys can advise you on the applicability of intra-family loans and will help determine if they are the right path for you and your family’s financial goals.

Minor Inheritance

Can Minors Receive Inheritance?

When a person dies, their heirs or beneficiaries may be a minor. How the minor receives their inheritance is usually dictated by the will or trust. However, if a comprehensive estate plan has not been put in place, this can bring some complications. This is where Illinois probate law comes into play. There are protections in place for minors in this scenario and, depending on the amount of inheritance, a guardianship estate may need to be opened. To avoid future complications, as you consider your estate plan, you and your family should discuss your goals and wishes. An attorney can also help you understand your options and make the best choice for you and your family.


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