815.787.0800
Estates
Request a Consult

We help individuals, couples, businesses, and families identify and outline their goals, organize their financial information, and make informed decisions regarding the management of their assets while planning for the future. We work with clients planning for and administering estates locally, in multiple states, and several countries outside the United States.

Highlights:
How and when to avoid probate (Court)
The importance of estate planning (Wills and Trusts)
Protecting your assets
Financial, Estate & Lifetime goals
planning for loved ones
Find your basic estate structure in the nine (9) scenarios below:

Retired, Married Couple in their 60s

Lifestyle: Both are retired and receive retirement income. All property is equally shared. They have 2 adult children born of this marriage. They live on retirement accounts, savings, and other assets.
Property & Other Assets: The couple owns a home valued at $900,000.00 with no outstanding mortgage. They have a vacation home worth $300,000 and other real property valued at $150,000, all with no outstanding debt. They have approximately $3 million in liquid accounts. Together, their retirement plans are valued at approximately $1.5 million dollars. Their mutual funds and stocks are worth $4 million. The wife has an art collection worth $100,000 and jewelry worth $50,000. In total, their estate is worth $10 million dollars.
Goals: The couple would like to reduce their taxes and avoid going through probate. They want to place the majority of their assets minus their retirement funds, into a Trust. They each want to ensure the other will receive their retirement funds to roll-over into an annuity for continued receipt of payments for living expenses. They each intend to leave the majority of their assets to the surviving spouse to maintain a comfortable lifestyle with all remaining assets divided in equal shares between their 2 children upon the death of the surviving spouse. They also have specific personal possessions they would like to distribute to close friends and donate to charity.
Legal Needs: Wills, Trust, Health Care Power of Attorney, Disposition of Remains, and Property Power of Attorney.

Wealthy Married Couple in their 70s

Lifestyle & Assets: The couple has two grown children, a son and a daughter, who are in their 40s. The son is from the husband’s previous marriage. Total, the couple’s assets are worth $12 million dollars. The husband owns (free and clear) a rental house worth $200,000 he inherited from his Mom.
Goals: They want to save on estate taxes, leave the majority of property to their 2 children, and donate to charitable organizations. They plan to leave all property in a Trust with their two children as beneficiaries. The couple would like to utilize personal estate tax exemptions. The husband wants to leave his son the $200,000 rental building from his mother and $300,000 from shared property for a total gift of $500,000. He wants his Trust to state that no taxes shall be paid for this gift.
Legal Needs: Wills for both spouses, Living Trust, individual trusts for each spouse (the wife diving assets between the children 50/50, the husband wants his trust to reflect a giving 60/40 split to his son and daughter), Health Care Powers of Attorney, Disposition of Remains, and Property Power of Attorney.

Single, Senior Male in his 60s

Lifestyle & Assets: He rents an apartment and has one sister and three nephews. He has $75,000 worth of personal possessions, a limited partnership interest worth $150,000, stocks worth $50,000, and $125,000 in a savings account. In total, his estate is worth $400,000.
Goals: He would like to leave the majority of his assets to his close friends, but still leave something for his sister and her three children. He would like to avoid probate and paying estate taxes. He has specific doctors, hospitals, and other requests for his health care needs and funeral arrangements when the time comes. He wants Best Friend #1 to be his Agent for his health care needs, death arrangements, and the distribution of his finances when he dies and make the his care decisions if/when he becomes incapacitated. He wants Best Friend #2 to serve as his Successor Agent for all decision making.
Legal Needs: Will, Trust, Health Care Power of Attorney, Disposition of Remains, and Property Power of Attorney.

Married Couple in their 40s

Lifestyle & Assets: This couple has two young children. They have a heavy mortgage on their home which is held in joint tenancy. They own two used cars and the house is the only major asset they possess. Their personal belongings are well-used and their possessions are modest. Between the two of them, they have a shared savings account with $15,000 and another savings account solely in the wife’s name with $5,000 in it, which she had before they got married.
Goals: The couple’s primary concern is providing for their two children, in case they both die. Since their total assets are worth less than $150,000 they won’t have to worry about paying federal estate taxes. Husband and wife have both purchased life insurance policies in the amount of $150,000 each. Unless they pass away simultaneously, the couple’s house will avoid probate, since it is owned in joint tenancy. The couple will implement wills leaving all non-joint tenancy belongings to the other, with the exclusion of the wife’s non-marital savings account. They intend to name the children as alternate beneficiaries to inherit all assets and property 50/50, in the event that both parents die simultaneously. If the wife dies first, half of her personal savings account will be transferred into the couple’s joint savings while the other half will be left to her brother. Each spouse wants to create a family pot trust in their individual wills so if both parents die, the proceeds from the insurance policies will be paid into a trust to provide for the children until they reach 18 years of age. In the event that the couple passes away at the same time, they plan to name the husband’s sister as Guardian for the children.
Legal Needs: Wills for each spouse, Trust, Health Care Powers of Attorney, Property Powers of Attorney, and Disposition of Remains.

Single Mother in her 30s

Lifestyle & Assets: She is a single, working mother of one and has never been married. She does not own any real estate. She has a retirement account worth $50,000, a savings account with $80,000 in it, personal property worth $90,000, and term life insurance with $700,000 in proceeds payable upon her death.
Goals: The mother’s primary concern is who will be able to raise her daughter if she is unable to. The mother feels her friend is the most capable, willing, and suitable for taking over the care of her daughter, in the event of her own death. She has conversations with friends and distant family before coming to this decision and includes a very detailed explanation of why it would be in her daughter’s best interests to name her friend as her daughter’s custodian instead of other family or friends. Biological relatives are alive but they are unwilling, unable, or unsuitable to take on the responsibility so a legally persuasive argument needs to be made to avoid a custody dispute. Her life insurance and retirement proceeds will not go into probate. All assets and funds, she names her daughter as beneficiary and her friend as custodian of the funds until her daughter reaches 18 years of age. She also wants to appoint the same friend to make financial and medical decisions for her in the event she faces health issues and becomes incapacitated.
Legal Needs: Will, Trust, Health Care Power of Attorney, Disposition of Remains, and Property Power of Attorney.

Senior Widower in his 80s

Lifestyle & Assets: He has one daughter and a dog he wants to leave the majority of his assets to. Additionally, he would like to gift to close friends and donate to charities upon his death. He has a house worth $700,000, household furnishings worth $30,000, a car worth $5,000, stocks worth $50,000, and savings in a money market worth $100,000. He lives primarily off his Social Security benefits and the interest from his savings account.
Goals: His goal is to avoid probate and transfer assets in the simplest ways possible. He plans to create a trust, naming himself as the Trustee and his daughter as the Successor Trustee and beneficiary. He will then transfer the house and all furnishings into the trust to be inherited by the daughter and avoid probate. He also decides to change his money market savings into a pay-on-death account and names his daughter as the beneficiary to avoid probate. He decides to create a Will to leave stocks to various friends. He also includes a residuary clause leaving any unclaimed, unmentioned, or leftover assets to his daughter. Since he wishes to keep things simple, his daughter is to be named as the person in charge of all his property, health care decisions, death arrangements, with no alternate beneficiaries. His neighbor verbally agrees to take care of his dog, if he should die.
Legal Needs: Will, Trust, Health Care Power of Attorney, Disposition of Remains, and Property Power of Attorney.

Married Couple, Second Marriage, in their 60s

Lifestyle & Assets: This marriage is the second for both husband and wife. The wife has one adult child and the husband has two adult children, all are from their previous marriages. They share ownership of a condominium worth $200,000, $150,000 of which is equity. They share a savings account with $80,000 in it, they own $50,000 in stocks, and their condo has approximately $25,000 worth of furnishings. They each separately own their own cars worth approximately $20,000 each. The husband separately owns a piece of real estate worth $350,000, $100,000 is equity. He also has partnership interest worth $40,000 and a separate savings account containing $60,000. The wife has a personal stamp collection worth $5,000 and mutual funds worth $500,000.
Goals: Both spouses want to provide for each other in the event of their death, but they also want to provide comfortable benefits to all the children. They decided to leave any jointly-owned property to each other in their Wills and any inheritance tax for the estate will be paid from this property. They plan to place property individually into separate AB marital property controlled trusts, with all individually owned assets going to the deceased spouse’s child(ren). They plan on designating the other as Trustee of whichever trust becomes the operational Trust A. They trust the other spouse to conserve the principal for the deceased spouse’s child(ren), but the children aren’t as comfortable with this arrangement. To ease concerns, the couple decides to include a clause directing the surviving spouse to send annual tax returns showing the status of the trust’s financial standing to the children of the deceased spouse.
Legal Needs: Wills, AB Trusts, Trust, Health Care Power of Attorney, Disposition of Remains, and Property Power of Attorney.

Unmarried Couple in their 40s

Lifestyle & Assets: This couple has lived together for 14 years, but they are unmarried and neither has children. When they moved in together, wrote an informal contract stating each had equal ownership of the house, the furnishings, and all other household items. This contract also stated that any other property acquired by each person would belong to that individual, separately. Additionally, they recorded a deed on the house with 50/50 ownership as tenants in common.
Goals: Their primary goal is to avoid probate. When they die, they each intend to leave their interest in the house, the household items, and anything else covered under the contract to the other partner. Any other assets they want to give away to friends and family will be specified as beneficiaries in their personal wills. They each want the other one to make their health care decisions and death arrangements. They also want to give the other partner the power to make financial decisions if either becomes incapacitated. They want to create three living trusts: One trust for the shared house and a trust for each partner and their separate property. Additionally, they plan to record a deed placing the house into a shared trust, and naming themselves as co-trustees.
Legal Needs: Wills, Living Trusts, Trusts, Health Care Powers of Attorney, Disposition of Remains, and Property Power of Attorney.

College Student Over 18, Under 21

Lifestyle & Assets: She is going to college out-of-state and renting an apartment outside of campus. She has approximately $5,000 in her personal savings account and a used car in her name worth $2,000. She has minimal personal property and she is covered under her parents’ insurance. Her parents co-signed for some of her students loans.
Goals: Her primary goal is to ensure her parents and family have are able to manage her affairs, make health and financial decisions for her in the event of incapacitation, and have control of her car and other belongings in the event of incapacitation or death.
Legal Needs: Health Care Power of Attorney, Property Power of Attorney, and Disposition of Remains