Category: Uncategorized

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 Information Should You Include in an Illinois Will?

When you decide to make a will, you may have questions about which information to include in it. First, you will probably want a lawyer’s help for many reasons. Second, you should be very clear about who receives which gifts. Third, you can include some additional information in your will for your executor and heirs.

  1. Why Do You Need a Lawyer’s Help with Your Will?

Most people are not familiar with preparing wills and do not know the legal rules surrounding them. It is unfortunately very common for someone to write out or type up a will and later have it invalidated by the courts. When this happens, assets may pass on in a way the deceased person never intended.

A competent estate planning lawyer can help you avoid these problems. One of the many issues that a lawyer can address is which property you may give away in your will. Any assets held by joint tenancy, that are payable to someone besides yourself or your estate, or held in trust are not part of your estate. Those assets will pass to the other joint tenant, the person to which they are payable, or the trust beneficiary. Your lawyer can identify these assets, as well as the assets that you can dispose of in your will.

  1. Clarity as to All Gifts You Make

Even when working with a lawyer, it is extremely important to be clear about all gifts that you make in your will. For example, you need to identify the full name of any heirs so that there is no confusion about who you mean. “All my money to Jan” in a will could easily become a problem if you have a mother named Janet, an aunt named Janelle, and a child named Janey.

In addition, you must clearly identify the specific gifts you are making. Rather than leaving the “green car” to Janet, have your lawyer list out the license plate number or VIN number. Explain how much money you want each person to have and the sources of the money, if it matters. For example, you could direct your executor to sell your house and distribute the sale money 50/50 to your sons.

  1. Additional Information in Your Will

Some people choose to include additional information in their wills, such as a guardian designation for children or funeral directions. The guardian designation indicates who the deceased person wants to take care of surviving children, although the court gets the final say about who will be appointed guardian. Funeral directions can help the executor and family understand the deceased person’s final wishes, if he or she did not specify them in an advance directive.

Finally, be sure to sign your will properly and have it witnessed in accordance with Illinois law. Your lawyer can help with this step.

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.