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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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IL probate attorneyEstate matters can be complicated since they involve emotional attachments to people and things. Creating a will helps make sure a person’s wishes are carried out after he or she passes away. For those individuals who are single or married with no children, a Last Will and Testament allows them to specify how their assets should be distributed to their heirs upon death. For people with children, a will can be used to address how they would like guardianship of their children to be handled. In addition, certain medical treatment that someone does or does not want to receive at the end of life can be specified. However, it is difficult to please everyone all of the time, and some relatives may not agree with the terms of a will. An experienced estate planning attorney can help families avoid contentious disputes over the contents of a will or trust.

What Is Probate?

Losing a loved one is hard under any circumstances, and it can be especially challenging when you believe your family member’s will is not valid. If you have concerns about a will, you can file what is called a will contest when it goes through probate. When someone dies, his or her estate usually must go through the legal process of probate. Probate is required for the following reasons:

  • To authenticate the decedent’s will.
  • To identify and locate all of the assets within the estate.
  • To give creditors a chance to file claims against the estate.
  • To ensure that any and all taxes on the estate are paid.

Challenging a Will

In order to contest a will in Illinois, one must typically take the below steps:

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Posted on in Estate Planning

contest, Wheaton estate planning attorneyIf you have recently experienced the death of a loved one, it is understandable that you may have needed some time for things to get back to normal, especially if you had a close relationship with the person who died. Unfortunately, when the person’s will is presented for probate, there is the possibility of new problems. What happens, for example, if you discover that your loved one has made some unexpected changes or decisions regarding his or her will? In such a situation, you may have the option of contesting the will, but there are some considerations to address before you file.

Disagreement Is Not Enough

Perhaps the most important thing to remember is that in any situation involving a will or the transfer of a decedent’s assets, it is practically guaranteed that someone will feel slighted or left out altogether. That someone may have expected to receive a particular part of the deceased person’s estate only to learn that the expectations were never written into the will. While you might be disappointed or hurt by how your loved one decided to distribute his or her property, hurt feelings are not grounds for contesting a will.

Grounds for a Will Contest

Under the law in Illinois, there are several situations in which challenging a will would be appropriate. These include:

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ways to save for retirement, DuPage County Estate Planning AttorneyAccording to the several financial studies, between 40 to 60 percent of Americans live paycheck to paycheck, meaning that they earn just enough to get by. For many, the thought of an early retirement—or any retirement—is not a current achievable goal because there are no funds left over each week to put into retirement savings.

Financial advisors have discovered ways that can free debt committed paycheck funds and can therefore be redirected into a retirement savings nest egg. For example, only one in three households in this country prepare and follow a monthly budget as a way to track their spending. This can lead to a lot of wasteful spending. By following the trail of where those paycheck funds go, you may be surprised at how much is actually coming in and going out.  

Families can also take a look at eliminating expenses that may be unnecessary and divert those funds into savings. Some of the biggest potential expenses include cable and satellite television packages. How many of those 450 channels does your family actually watch? If your family is also big take-out consumers, consider cooking more meals at home. There is often a large price difference in the per plate cost for a meal you prepare compared to the per plate cost of that meal from a restaurant. Magazine subscriptions and gym memberships are also areas that may be able to be cut or downsized.

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choosing a legal guardian, DuPage County Estate Planning AttorneyMaking legal plans to ensure that your family is taken care of in the event of your death is not an easy subject to consider. It can be even more difficult for those who are parents of young children.

Although none of us want to think that we will not live long enough to see our children grow up into adulthood and have children of their own, the sad fact is that many parents pass away when their children are still minors. Therefore, it is important to have these plans in place, including who would be the legal guardian to your child in the event both of his or her parents die. If you do not make the decision while you are still alive, the state will make that decision when you are gone.

Often, when parents are having the discussion over who should be the legal guardian of their child, they disagree. The father may want a relative from his side of the family, while the mother may think one of her relatives would be the best choice. However, there are certain questions that parents can ask themselves as they make their list of the pluses and minuses for each of their choices.

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