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IL estate planning lawyerEstate planning is important for anyone of any age or health. Unfortunately, life is nothing if not unpredictable and none of us know what day will be our last. Although it can be an uncomfortable topic to think about, planning for the possibility of incapacitation and death is crucial to protecting your loved ones and ensuring your final wishes are fulfilled. A living will is an advanced directive used to describe your decision regarding end-of-life care and other essential matters.

A Living Will Ensures Your Medical Wishes Will Be Followed

Most people are familiar with a last will and testament. A will is used to describe how property should be distributed to heirs after someone passes away. However, fewer understand the purpose of a living will. A living will is a document that spells out a person’s wishes regarding medical care at the end of their life. If a person is in a coma, suffers from dementia, or has other disabling medical conditions, he or she may not be able to communicate with doctors and loved ones. A living will is used to make medical decisions about end-of-life care in advance, so there is no question about the types of medical care an individual should receive.

A living will may be used to specify your wishes regarding:

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IL estate lawyerFor many people, the process of creating an estate plan will involve decisions about how a person’s assets will be passed to their heirs after their death. However, estate planning may also address a person’s needs throughout the remainder of their life, including ensuring that they will receive the proper medical and personal care and that their finances will be managed correctly. One way of doing so is through durable powers of attorney. By understanding how these agreements can be used and the benefits they provide, a family can make sure a person’s wishes will be followed, no matter what happens.

Reasons to Create Durable Powers of Attorney for Healthcare and Finances

A power of attorney is an agreement in which a person (known as the “principal”) will give someone else (known as their “agent”) the authority to make decisions for them. A power of attorney for healthcare will address issues related to the medical care a person receives and other personal needs, while a power of attorney for finances or property will address issues related to a person’s income, assets, financial resources, and expenses. Powers of attorney are considered to be “durable” if they contain provisions that state that the agent’s authority will remain in effect even if the principal becomes incapacitated. That is, if a person becomes unconscious due to an illness or suffers from dementia or other mental health issues that affect their ability to make their wishes known, their agent will continue to have the authority to make decisions on their behalf.

Benefits of a durable power of attorney include:

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IL estate lawyerThe topic of estate planning is important, but it can seem daunting to think about. When a person dies, an estate tax is imposed on the value of the estate left behind, before any beneficiaries (family members or close friends) inherit anything.

An inheritance tax is imposed on an individual who receives any type of inheritance. Although some states do have inheritance taxes, there is no federal or state tax imposed on inheritances in Illinois. It is important to distinguish between these two kinds of taxes in order to protect the rights of those on the receiving end.

Understanding the Illinois Estate Tax

There is both a federal estate tax and an Illinois estate tax, however, the size of the estate must be significant for either one of these types of estate tax to apply. The Illinois estate tax rate is graduated and can go up to 16 percent, but it is only applied on estates worth more than $4 million. This means that if a decedent’s total estate is worth less than $4 million, the estate does not have to pay anything to the state. If an estate is worth more than $4 million, there is a progressive estate tax rate, and the estate will have to pay before money can be distributed to any heirs.

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Even though it is the season for giving, this year has been difficult for many people due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Coronavirus has resulted in not only a global health crisis but an economic downturn as well. Numerous individuals across the country may have felt the impact, whether it is a pay cut or a job loss. Many people may be contemplating their financial future, regardless of their job status. Tax issues can be complex, but there are various ways to reduce estate and inheritance taxes. For instance, Illinois tax laws provide tax benefits if retirement funds are left to designated individuals, and certain kinds of trusts can reduce estate and inheritance taxes that an individual has to pay. There are valuable tools that can be utilized in the estate planning process, and an experienced attorney can assist you in creating a comprehensive estate plan.

Monetary Gifts at the End of the Year

These days, many individuals are now doing their Christmas shopping online as a result of COVID-19. Stores all over the country are temporarily closed in an effort to stop the spread of the contagious virus. For those who have a difficult time picking out the perfect gift, a good alternative is to give money. That way, the recipient can buy whatever he or she likes. Giving money to family members or friends this Christmas can also be a smart tax planning move. Gifting cash now can help you reduce or even avoid estate taxes after you die.

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A special needs trust is typically established by parents for a disabled child, or for disabled adults who are eligible for aid that will be lost if there are assets in their parent or guardian’s names only. It is a legal and fiduciary arrangement that allows a physically or mentally disabled person to receive income without interrupting or interfering with his or her eligibility for the public assistance disability benefits provided by Social Security, Supplemental Security Income, Medicare, or Medicaid. For disabled beneficiaries, this financial support can make their lives more enjoyable and fulfilling. Also known as a supplemental needs trust, this kind of trust may be a necessary part of your Illinois estate plan. An experienced estate planning attorney can help you draft this essential legal document to protect your family member.

Protecting Your Loved One

According to Illinois law, two types of supplemental needs trusts can be established: third party supplemental needs trusts and supplemental needs payback trusts. Both trusts provide the disabled beneficiary with the ability to improve his or her quality of life through services or assistive equipment that he or she would not receive with government assistance programs.

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