Estate Planning Is Important To Ensure Your Family's Well-Being

Creating an estate plan is more important than many people realize. Some think estate plans are primarily for older folks who have multiple property holdings and highly valued assets. However, every adult should have — at the very least — powers of attorney for finances and health care in case they become incapacitated by sudden illness or injury. These legal documents ensure your financial matters and your decisions about your medical treatment are handled by the person you appoint as your agent. If you are a parent with minor children, your estate planning documents can include a nomination for guardians to care for your children until they become adults.

Waiting until later to establish your estate plan could mean hardship for your family and costly court intervention. At Parish & Castleman, my goal is to make dealing with complex and emotional legal matters as simple and straightforward as possible for you.

Are You Concerned About Keeping Your Farm In Your Family?

Estate planning is also critical to safeguarding your real property and assets. An estate plan can protect your family's legacy such as the farm that has been in your family for generations. An estate plan can be as simple as a few legal documents such as a will, durable financial power of attorney and health care documents, or include more complex documents as with a trust, depending on your specific goals for distributing your assets.

A will is a legal document that states your wishes for distributing your assets to heirs and beneficiaries. While Illinois provides several standard forms for stating your physical and mental health treatment choices in a health care power of attorney and a living will, among others, these forms can be confusing without the guidance of an estate planning attorney.

Establishing a trust is where you, the grantor, name trustee(s) and beneficiary(ies) to control your property and assets. It is more complex than a will in that you transfer ownership of your assets to the trust. You may name yourself and others as a trustee and beneficiary in your trust. In this way, you can direct your trustee to use your assets as you wish while you are alive as well as when you pass away.

My firm can help you with the full range of documents necessary for a complete estate plan, including:

  • Wills — Simple to complex
  • Trusts — All types, including revocable living trusts, irrevocable trusts, special needs, charitable trusts
  • Powers of attorney — Durable, springing, for property and real estate transactions, health care directive
  • Estate administration — Distribution of trust property, ensuring estate taxes are paid, counsel and advice for filing tax returns for trusts
  • Probate — With a will (testate) or without a will (intestate), formal or informal proceedings
  • Real estate matters — Estate planning and probate often requires accurate transfers of real estate titles into the trust, or sale of property holdings
  • Guardianships For disabled adults without estate planning documents when a physician determines the competency or for minor children

Review Your Estate Plan When Life Changes For You

It is essential to review your estate planning documents following changes to your family or business circumstances, such as:

  • Marriage
  • Birth of a child
  • Adoption
  • Inheritance of money or property
  • Real estate purchase or sale
  • Divorce
  • Death of a spouse

Probate Matters And Distributing Trust Property Can Be Complex

Estate administration is the process of ensuring a person's trust is properly distributed according to the terms contained in the trust. The person who is entrusted to do so is called trustee. The trustee has fiduciary duties to ensure the property and assets in the trust are distributed to the beneficiaries as spelled out by the grantor. Sometimes the grantor creates a revocable living trust to safeguard their assets so they can still have access to them if they become incapacitated during their lifetime.

When it comes to the probate process, I work to give the executor of an estate as much independence and flexibility as possible. I have over 40 years of experience providing families in central Illinois peace of mind in estate planning, estate administration and probate matters.

Take The Mystery Out Of Estate Planning, Administration And Probate

Working with an experienced lawyer can clear up the confusion about end-of-life planning or the lack of a plan. At Parish & Castleman, I can ease the burden of discussing these emotionally difficult topics with clear guidance and provide the skilled representation you need. Schedule an appointment by emailing or calling my office in Decatur at 217-429-4283 to learn more about your legal options.