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DuPage County estate planning lawyersLove might have failed you before, but the fact that you are planning on getting remarried proves you have not abandoned all hope. Just do not let that cloud your judgement when it comes to updating your estate plan. Do not have one yet? You are certainly not alone, but this can be problematic for more reasons than one. The following explains further, and provides some guidance on estate planning matters you may want to consider before or immediately after you walk down the aisle.

No Will? You Might Have a Problem

Some blended families just do not blend. Others manage to get along fairly well, but tensions may mount if you pass away without a will. You see, without a will, your estate will be divided up according to Illinois state law. This essentially means that your spouse would receive half of your estate, and that your children would have to split the remaining half. Even more troubling is that this law does not address issues involving family heirlooms or other items you may not want sold. Instead, your family will be left to battle it out, which could take several months, possibly even years. Thankfully, a will can and often does eliminate a great deal of the potential discourse.

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inheritance taxes, DuPage County Estate Planning AttorneyMany people take advantage of the tax savings that estate planning options give them. Utilizing different legal options, such as trusts, will often alleviate how much a person would have to pay to the IRS in taxes for those funds. However, one of the issues to consider is whether or not the plans you are establishing will place a tax burden on your beneficiaries when you pass.

The federal tax exemption statistically affects approximately 1 percent of the country's population. The current exemption is $5.43 million for individuals and $10.86 million for couples. Yet many people fail to consider if the state they live in has required estate tax. There are 16 states, including Illinois, which levy up to a 20 percent estate tax to beneficiaries.

Funds from life insurance policies are exempt from taxes. Everything else is taxable. The only people exempt from paying these taxes are spouses. All other beneficiaries can be taxed between 10 and 26 percent for any property or funds they inherit. Domestic partners are also required to pay the same estate taxes as other beneficiaries.

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vacation properties, Illinois Estate Planning AttorneyMany families invest in vacation properties—a mountain cabin or ocean cottage—as places in which to escape and enjoy quality time together. Often, a family owns a vacation property for years—a home enjoyed while watching their children grow. Years later, the property becomes a place where the family's grown-children bring their own children.

Yet where does a vacation home fit in when it comes to estate planning, and what options do owners have to ensure a property is protected?

Cabin Trust

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estate planning wishes, Illinois Estate Planning LawyerFamilies may find it uncomfortable discussing estate planning wishes with their loved ones. No one likes to consider the day when his or her parents will no longer be around. However, not discussing one's estate planning can have serious consequences. It is an all-too-common scenario when a person passes away—or becomes seriously incapacitated—without ever making important legal decisions.

If your elderly parents have not addressed these decisions, it is important to sit down with them and make plans to consult with an estate planning attorney to ensure their wishes are carried out. This is not always easy since parents often feel that these matters are private ones, even with their own children. They may also not want to make these plans because it reminds them of their own mortality. Yet keeping these factors in mind when approaching parents can help make the conversation easier.

One of the most important issues that should first be addressed are the plans regarding the care of your parents in the future. Questions such as whether or not the funds are available for them to live comfortably, as well as what plans are in place should long-term or permanent placement in a medical facility should become necessary, need to be answered. There should also be a medical directives in place, including someone appointed to make healthcare decisions should the need become necessary.

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If you have property or assets that you want to leave to your heirs, then you have several options.  A trust can shield these assets from taxation and also probate.  It allows you to protect your legacy and control your wealth.  They are essential to good estate planning so it is important to know what they can do.

There are two types of trusts.  The first is a living trust, which is called that because it is active during the grantors lifetime.  A living trust can either be revocable or irrevocable.  A revocable trust can be changed at any time in the grantor's lifetime.  If a relationship, circumstances or your intentions change then it is not an issue.  But while it does avoid probate, a revocable trust is subject to estate taxes.

An irrevocable trust is the opposite.  It immediately transfers your effects out of your estate and into a separate legal entity. There is no way to change your mind or use these assets because they are not yours anymore.  Benefits of an irrevocable trust is that it can avoid probate and estate taxes.

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