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living will, Wheaton estate planning lawyerYou may have already considered how you want your assets distributed to heirs after you pass away, but this is not the only issue that estate plans can address. Have you ever wondered what types of medical treatment you would want if you became incapacitated through a serious illness or injury? For example, if you were involved in a car accident and left comatose, would you want doctors to do everything possible to extend your life? Would you want a feeding tube, mechanical ventilation, or other death-delaying procedures? Would you want to let nature take its course?

Through a living will, you can make these types of decisions in advance. This saves your loved ones from being forced to make these decisions for you and also gives you the peace of mind knowing that your medical wishes will be followed.

The Terri Schiavo Case Emphasized the Need for a Living Will

Although it was over 20 years ago, many people still remember the media frenzy surrounding Terri Schiavo. The young woman fell into an irreversible persistent vegetative state after suffering a cardiac arrest at age 26. Her husband believed that Terri would not want to be kept alive via long-term life support and elected to have her feeding tube removed. The woman’s parents strongly disagreed and wanted their daughter to continue receiving artificial hydration and nutrition. The case resulted in a seven-year legal battle.

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Illinois estate planning lawyersWhile most married couples can benefit from estate planning, it is not a hard or critical requirement. Most often, their assets would go to their spouse upon death, and minor children remain with the surviving parent, as long as the parent does not supersede them in death or die along with them. Even medical decisions are typically deferred to the spouse if one of them becomes incapacitated. Unfortunately, this is not always the case for same-sex married couples. Learn more about the challenges that same-sex couples face in estate planning, and what you can do to protect your family, with help from the following information.

Same-Sex Couple Estate Planning Challenges

Same-sex couples may experience numerous challenges in the event of death or incapacitation of one member. Families that refuse to accept the sexual orientation of their loved one may challenge the validity of a spouse's inheritance; doctors may question the authenticity of a same-sex marriage, which can delay treatment; and even children may be temporarily removed from a loving parent if the validity of a same-sex marriage is questioned. In short, many potential areas can create post-death issues for surviving spouses in a same-sex marriage.

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DuPage County, DuPage County estate planning lawyer, estate planning, Illinois estate planning, legal document, living will, will writingWill writing ensures loved ones are financially secure when a person passes. It is not always easy to find the motivation to write a will. It is an emotional experience. However, not taking this step can lead to a multitude of issues ranging from conflict among family members to high estate taxes and even lawsuits.

A will is a document that contains the terms by which a person's assets and money will be distributed after his or her death. Every state has a list of formal requirements that must be followed when a will is written. The Illinois State Bar Association has listed the legal requirements for those who live in Illinois. These requirements include the following:

  • Will writers must be at least 18 years old;

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DuPage County estate planning lawyer, well-formulated estate plan, estate tax, federal estate tax, death tax, business estate planA well-formulated estate plan gives estate owners peace of mind knowing their assets and funds are going to the right place. One reason why it is important to develop an estate plan is to potentially reduce or eliminate federal estate taxes, also known as the "death tax." Calculated at 40 percent, these taxes not only diminish funds from loved ones but they can also severely impact a private company.

According to an article in Forbes, an estate is only subject to federal estate tax if it is valued at more than $5.34 million. Moreover, there is a marital exemption. If you are married, you and your partner will not have to pay federal estate taxes unless your combined estate is valued at more than $10.6 million. Although these limits mean most Americans will not need to pay estate tax, those who do could see a substantial loss in wealth. If a business is owned, there are a number of other criteria, including death or retirement of the key asset holder, that can affect a business's equity before estate tax comes into effect. Understanding these factors can put a person in a position to keep these taxes low.

In addition, Forbes contributor Steve Parrish notes that business owners may also face the challenge of not having "sufficient liquidity to carry the estate through to distribution to the beneficiaries." Creditors may need paid off or lost revenue may need supplemented. However, this can be avoided by having an estate plan that is sufficient in funds. A well-formulated estate plan considers all factors "that can challenge the successful transfer of wealth, including the estate tax," states Parrish.

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DuPage County estate planning lawyer, financial planning, Illinois retirement, Illinois retirement planning, retirement planning, financial tips, workplace retirement plansStatistics show we are living longer than previous generations. The average life expectancy for an American is 78.7 years, and that number increases each year. One major reason for this increase is the vast improvement in diagnosis and treatment of cardiovascular disease.

A longer life allows for the opportunity to enjoy retirement after working for 40 to 50 years. Therefore, if sound financial retirement planning decisions are made, the saved funds will allow for an enjoyable retirement as well as sufficient care should one become medically incapacitated due to illness or injury.

Financial advisors note several common mistakes that many people make, but are easily avoidable, when investing for their retirement. One of the most common mistakes is not paying attention to unadvertised fees. For example, if a person pays a 1 percent fee over the 40 years he or she is working and saving, this percentage can add up to tens of thousands of dollars that will not be in his or her Illinois retirement fund.

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