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Who Are The Necessary Parties Involved In Estate Planning?


When I meet a client about doing an estate plan, the people involved are the ones who hold the assets. If you have an individual who’s not married, I meet with that person and discuss whether he or she has children, heirs, siblings, or parents. I take a full detailed intake about the various people involved in their lives, and from there, we decide how we want to structure the documents, who we want in charge, how we want to split the assets, and who’s going to control the assets.

If it’s a husband and wife, we usually put them together on the same trust for the benefit of the children, but I customize it depending on the circumstances. It doesn’t even have to be a particular individual. It doesn’t have to be a child or a brother. Maybe there’s a good friend who they want as their trustee. Maybe they have a good friend that they want the assets to go to. It’s really up to the individual creating the documents. We can do whatever they need.

How Often Should I Review And Update Estate Planning Documents?

They should be reviewed and updated any time there’s a change in the law. Sometimes the federal government and state government will change the limits as far as what would be a taxable estate. Right now, those limits are very high. You’d have to have an estate well over a combined value of over $10 million for the estate tax to apply. For most people, that’s not really going to be an issue. But, if it is, that’s not a problem because I’ve done many estate plans to prepare for that. If there’s a change in law, or if you’ve had an extreme change in the value of your assets, it might be time to review your trust. Also, if you’ve acquired new assets that were not included in your trust when you originally made it, it would be a good time to review things and make sure that everything is accounted for.

What Is Involved In Administering An Estate Or Trust Administration?

Trust administration is very easy, and that’s one of the reasons we like to use it, unlike a will. A will is overseen and administered by the probate court. The court requires an accounting before the assets can be distributed. A trust avoids all of that. A trust is self-administering. In other words, when the creator of a trust dies, that person names a successor trustee. The trustee is the individual who’s in charge over who controls the trust and the assets in the trust after the creator has died. There’s no one to report to, there’s no one that we have to get permission from to do anything. The trust basically allows the successor trustee to do what is needed to be done pursuant to the trust language. Therefore, if the creator of the trust dies and names a successor trustee, that successor trustee doesn’t have to answer to anyone. They can handle the property and distribute the property pursuant to the document without any other permission.

That’s why we like these types of documents. It makes it very easy on the successors to handle the property, unlike the cumbersome nature of being in court and having to report to the court. Sometimes, you have to post a bond with the court. There’s a lot of extra outlay of money when you have to go through the probate court. Trusts are streamlined. For example, if you’re going to get stocks pursuant to the trust, and you present the trust documents to the brokerage house, that’s all they need to see that you’re the one who’s authorized to get the stocks. It’s pretty simple.

What Is Probate? When Does It Occur In Illinois?

Probate is a special court that deals with the administration of wills. If someone dies with only a will, or if someone dies without a will, their assets have to be supervised by the court. If you have a will, you present the will to the court, and the court will make sure that there’s a proper accounting and that the assets are distributed pursuant to the will. If somebody dies without a will, then you still have to go through the probate court, and the court will distribute the assets pursuant to state law. That’s why we like to have a trust rather than a will, or nothing at all, because a trust avoids going to probate court. When you have a situation going through probate court, the court will generally require you to post a bond. You have to pay a bondsman a premium in order for them to post the bond on your behalf. Then you have to hire a lawyer because these are complicated situations to get through with the probate court; and not to mention, the time.

The time it takes to probate an estate, will depend on the amount of assets and various other complexities within the situation. A very simple probated matter could take over a year to wrap up and conclude versus a trust, which is basically instantaneous. There’s nobody looking over your shoulder, you don’t have to go to court. You don’t have to get permission. All the permission and everything is included in the document. It’s very streamlined and simple for your family members and loved ones. They’re going to be dealing with your loss and all of the emotions that go along with the passing. The last thing they want to do is deal with a bunch of other complicated court proceedings. Trusts avoid that situation.

For more information on Necessary Parties Involved In An Estate Plan, a free initial consultation is your next best step. Get the information and legal answers you are seeking by calling (815) 290-9170 today.

Donald N. Macneil, Esq.

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