Estate Planning

Estate Planning is the process by which an individual or family arranges the transfer of assets in anticipation of death. An estate plan aims to preserve the maximum amount of wealth possible for the intended beneficiaries and flexibility for the individual prior to death.

Each and every estate plan is a personalized process. Many clients find that a basic will is appropriate for their circumstances, while others are concerned with avoiding probate, a lengthy and costly legal process that oversees the transfer of assets. No matter your goals, Matt will work with you and your advisors to ensure these goals are met.

People with minor children

What happens if you are married, have children and die without a will? Your spouse receives all your property? Wrong! Half of your property (located in Illinois) goes to your spouse and the other half goes to your children. Not only is this contrary to what many individuals want, it creates several problems for the surviving spouse and minor children.

Area of Concern:
The court must appoint a guardian to hold and manage each child's property. The surviving spouse may be the one appointed as guardian; however that will not solve the difficulties of a guardianship. If the guardian wants to disburse the minor's money, the guardian must go to court and convince the judge the disbursement is in the minor's best interests.
Avoiding the Trouble
Draft a will that leaves your money and other property to whom you wish. Furthermore, provide that if any money or property is given to a minor, it should instead go to the trustee of a trust created under your will for the minor's benefit. This avoids leaving your surviving spouse in the potentially difficult position of inheriting only half your property, unless that is your goal.

Unmarried couples

Unmarried couples need wills if they intend to benefit their partners after death. Property passes only to relatives. Consequently, if you want to leave your property to your partner, you must do so in a will.

There are some forms of ownership, such as joint tenancy, that have a survivorship element. Joint tenancy exists when two or more people own property as joint tenants. In such case, when one owner dies, the other owners automatically own the deceased owner's share. This is especially useful for owning real estate. However, it is no substitute for a will.

People whose children have different needs

Sometimes a family has a child who is disabled, a child who suffers with addictions or an adult child who cannot manage money. In such situations, one child may have different needs than the others. You can create a trust and appoint a trustee under your will to hold and manage money for one child, and give the other children their inheritances outright.