Author: Law Office of Andrew Szocka

Updating Your Estate Plan After the Birth of a Child

After the birth of your new child, you probably need to update your estate plan. The update will address one simple issue: your current estate plan does not include your child. It may be out of date in other ways too. To protect your child in case anything happens to you, get started on the changes as soon as possible.

Including Your Child in the Estate Plan

When you start reviewing your estate plan, you may realize that it needs more changes than you thought. For example, you probably want to include your child in your will. You may have a trust benefiting your children that should include your child as a beneficiary. And your powers of attorney and other existing estate planning documents should reflect the fact that you have a child.

To update these documents, you need your lawyer to prepare either addendums or new versions of the documents. You should speak to your lawyer about the necessary changes and make sure you sign the new documents when ready.

In addition, you may need new estate planning documents prepared. Many parents decide to incorporate the following:

  • Guardianship designation to specify who should take care of your child if you cannot
  • College savings account such as a 529 plan
  • Life insurance
  • Additional estate planning for themselves, such as medical directives

Protecting Your Child Through Estate Planning

Even if you do not update your estate plan, the law may protect your child from being disinherited altogether. But don’t take that risk. It is usually straightforward to add your child to important documents such as your will. Doing so can provide peace of mind that your child will have financial stability even if you are not around.

Signing new documents such as a guardianship designation provides additional peace of mind. You will want someone in place to care for your child if you cannot. And you need a plan in place to protect your child, just in case. Updating your estate plan is a great place to start.

Want to update your estate plan? 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.

Updating Your Estate Plan When You Have New Stepchildren

When you welcome new stepchildren into your life, you may need to update your estate plan too. With the addition of new family members, your estate plan might not reflect your wishes anymore.

Which Updates Do You Need to Make?

The updates you should make to your estate plan are similar to the updates you would make if you just had a baby. This is true whether you just married the stepchildren’s parent or if the children have recently come to live with you. In addition, you may need more changes if you recently got married to the stepchildren’s parent. For example, you may need:

  • A will that includes the stepchildren
  • A guardianship designation for each stepchild
  • College savings, like a 529 plan
  • More life insurance

You might also want to expand your estate plan to include medical directives, powers of attorney, and other documents that allow others to make decisions if you cannot. These estate planning structures protect children in your life by maintaining stability even if you are not the one making the choices.

If the stepchildren do not live with you full-time, you may not want to include them in your estate plan yet. Or maybe the children are older and live independently, so a gift in your will is more appropriate. Also, consider talking to your partner, husband, or wife about his or her estate plan. Perhaps your significant other needs to make a plan that protects the children, even if yours does not.

How Do You Make Changes to Your Estate Plan?

The easiest way to make changes to your estate plan is to talk to your estate planning lawyer. You may need addendums written for your documents, or you may need new documents prepared. Your lawyer can quickly and efficiently prepare the correct documents to carry out your wishes.

Be sure to ask your lawyer if he or she recommends that you add any additional estate planning structures. For example, a trust could lower your potential gift and estate tax liability. It also allows you to leave property or money to chosen beneficiaries either during your lifetime or later on. When you have new stepchildren, you will want to take advantage of helpful planning opportunities for the future.

Want to make changes to your estate plan? 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 to Do If You Want to Disinherit Someone from Your Estate

If you have chosen to disinherit someone from your estate, you need to take a few steps to ensure that your wishes are carried out. First, your estate planning documents must clearly explain the disinheritance. Second, you should be prepared for conflict if others learn of your choice. Third, it is a very good idea to speak to an estate planning lawyer and have him or her prepare the necessary documents.

  1. How to Disinherit Someone from Your Estate

Deciding not to give someone close to you any money or property upon your death is a very common choice. That person may not be in your life anymore, you may have had a serious disagreement, or you may think that he or she does not need the money. It is perfectly fine to disinherit someone if you would like, but the key is to do it effectively.

To disinherit someone from your estate in the most effective way, you need to explicitly exclude that person from your will. In other words, your will needs to state in plain terms that you do not want the person to inherit anything. Alternatively, it could state that the person should inherit only a small sum or a particular item of personal property and nothing more.

In some cases, the law does not really allow you to disinherit someone unless your will says so. For example, there are laws that protect spouses from being disinherited. Some courts will enforce these laws even if it appears that a deceased person wanted to disinherit his or her spouse.

  1. Get a Lawyer

To avoid a situation where your wishes for disinheriting someone are not carried out, get a lawyer. A good estate planning lawyer can prepare your will to your specifications. The will often should include a specific statement that you are disinheriting a person, especially if it is a close relative. Also, he or she can discuss the legal implications of disinheriting someone with you. If you need other estate planning documents to distribute your estate to your chosen heirs, your lawyer can assist with those too.

  1. Be Prepared for the Consequences

Unfortunately, your family members may be very unhappy if they learn that you plan to disinherit someone. This is especially true if the person is a close relative. Be prepared to either keep your decision a secret or explain yourself to your family. If you do keep the decision a secret, be aware that your estate could face a will dispute in probate court after your death.

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 to Do If You Have Been Disinherited from an Estate

If you were expecting an inheritance, learning that you have been disinherited from an estate could be devastating. You were probably expecting the money or property and had been counting on receiving it. In this situation, you have a few possible options, such as speaking to a lawyer, appealing to the probate court for help, or deciding to move on.

Speak to a Lawyer About the Estate

Sometimes, you feel more than just upset about not being included in the will. You may have reason to believe that you were wrongly disinherited. In that case, you should speak to a lawyer about your concerns. The lawyer will talk to you about possible reasons for overturning a will or changing the inheritances. These reasons could include:

  • The deceased person did not have legal capacity to make a will
  • Someone unduly influenced the deceased person as to the contents of the will
  • There is a newer will with different terms
  • The will was not witnessed or signed properly
  • A spouse or child is not included in the will, but the will was written before the marriage or birth

Whether you have a case for disputing the will depends on the specific circumstances at hand, so you should speak to a lawyer before taking the next step – going to court.

Appealing to the Probate Court

You can bring genuine legal disputes about wills to the local probate court. The judge will consider evidence and decide a dispute revolving around a will or a deceased person’s wishes. However, keep in mind that you must have a legal reason for disputing the will, not just dissatisfaction about who inherits what. Talk to your lawyer to learn more about the probate court process.

Moving on from an Inheritance Dispute

Often, it is better to move on from an inheritance dispute if you do not have a legal basis to dispute the will. You might have considered talking to the executor or the heirs, but they do not have the power to change the will. The executor is bound by the law to distribute the estate according to the will. So in the end, you may have to accept the will’s terms, no matter how little you like them. Consider doing some estate planning of your own instead of worrying about the will.

Need help with an estate or will issue? 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 to Do If You Inherit Money from an Estate

If you inherit money from an estate, you may have questions about handling the inheritance. For example, you might want to know how you will receive the money, how much money it will be, and what to do with the money.

How Will You Receive an Inheritance?

Usually, people pass on inheritances through their wills. A will explains how to distribute someone’s estate after he or she dies. Each person who receives money or property from the estate is called an heir. In the will, the deceased person names an executor to handle his or her affairs, including contacting heirs to notify them of inheritances.

When you learn from an executor that you will receive an inheritance, you may not get the money or property right away. Estates sometimes have to pass through probate court before they can be distributed. Also, sometimes it takes a long time to wrap up the deceased person’s affairs. But once the time is right, the executor will either transfer the property to you or write you a check in the amount of the inheritance.

How Much Money or Property Will You Inherit?

The amount of money or property that you inherit depends on what the will says, how much the estate is worth, and what other heirs inherit. For example, when a deceased person dies with a lot of debt, the estate must pay the creditors before it can pay the heirs. The estate will decrease in value, meaning some heirs may inherit much less than anticipated.

Further, the amounts of some inheritances depend on what other heirs receive. The will could say that one person receives $10,000, with the rest of the estate going to you. But if the estate is only worth $12,000, your gift might not be as much as you thought.

What Should You Do With the Inheritance?

Once the executor transfers the inheritance to you, most of the time you are free to do what you like with it. (Rarely, the deceased person writes conditions into the will, such as restricting you from selling real estate for a certain amount of time.) You might consider making your own estate plan so that the inheritance money or property could go to the person of your choice. Or you could use the inheritance to achieve a financial goal, such as paying off loans or putting a down payment on a house.

Have questions about an inheritance? 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.