Estate Planning update after COVID19 – 2021

There are a number of reasons to consider reviewing your estate plan during 2021.  Our attorneys have decades of legal experience in wills, trusts, business organizations and other aspects of estate planning – including business succession plans.  By establishing your plans now, your wishes can be formalized for easier completion later – contact our office to discuss these matters in further detail.

Trusts are commonly used by those who wish to minimize possible tax ramifications, as well as those who wish to avoid court proceedings and effectuate a smooth transition upon your death.  Tax ramifications are less of a concern under current law, but federal and state governments can modify those laws in the future which may increase tax exposure.  Additionally, Illinois has now adopted the Illinois Trust Act, which adds some uniformity to trust management with many other states across the nation.

For those whose financial situation does not trigger estate tax concerns, it is still important to review your documents periodically (at least every decade).  Named beneficiaries die or move, circumstances change that affect your desired gifting scheme… and some organizational recipients (charities, etc.) may no longer be in existence (especially after last year).

Some practitioners encourage the use of trusts to avoid using a will as the centerpiece of estate planning, thereby avoiding probate court and costs.  Trust usage tends to minimize probate delays, but proper management of your estate plan can include distribution of both real estate and personal property using a will and still minimize involvement of any probate court – especially when an Illinois small estate affidavit may come into play with such planning.

Regardless of the size of an estate, for those who have minor children, the most important aspect of your estate plan may be the management of your most precious assets – who will care for your children (and manage funds left for them) if you and your spouse both pass?  Both wills and trusts can establish who will make personal and financial decisions about your children – in as much detail as is appropriate for your individual situation.  Once your child is an adult (18 in Illinois), there is no further need of a guardian; however, you may still have funds managed for that child’s benefit past 18 IF you have a proper trust or will established.

Finally, while one set of documents will address management and distribution of your assets when you pass (will) or at a specific time (trust), neither form addresses who should make decisions for you – either personal care / medical or financial – at a time when your abilities to think and communicate may be impaired.  Powers of Attorney forms for medical and property are important additional documents that work with wills or trusts to provide a complete plan of protection for you and your treasures.