Attorney for Wills in Springfield, IL
Are you thinking about your future, your loved ones, and the estate you’ve worked to build throughout your lifetime? One of the most important components of estate planning is having an attorney for wills help you with the drafting of the will. A will is a legal tool that enables you to direct what happens to your property after you die.
Dying without a will can lead to complications in the administration of a person’s estate. It could mean your estate is distributed in a way that is against your wishes. There may be significant tax implications. Disabled or minor children may not be properly cared for. If you pass without a will, trust, or other applicable estate documents, Illinois law will generally determine where your assets go. A will empowers you to make key decisions that matter while you are of sound mind to do so.
When you work with the will drafting lawyers at the Noll Law Office in Springfield, IL, you’ll gain knowledge of what you can do with a will. They can put a will in place for you based on your wishes and then work with you to manage it over your lifetime. For a FREE initial consultation, call (217) 414-8889 today.
Securing Your Legacy – Simple Wills
A person that dies without proper estate documents will often lose control over what happens to their property. When you take a few minutes to meet with the attorney for wills in Springfield, IL, you will discuss how to design a will and/or other estate documents to accommodate your specific needs, goals, and objectives. Wills outline instructions the courts need to ensure a fair transfer of your assets and a care plan for your loved ones.
Not all wills need to be complicated. The lawyers at the Noll Law Office offer simple wills at very reasonable rates. The key thing to remember is that if you do not have a will, you leave it up to the court to make decisions about your assets.
What Is the Benefit of Having a Will?
A will is a valuable legal document that gives you control over many aspects of your estate (including anything you own) after your death. For many people, a will is a powerful tool because it gives you peace of mind during your life knowing that your goals will be met after your death. Whether you want to leave money to a charity, decide what happens to your business, ensure your children are cared for, or state who inherits your family’s prized family heirlooms, a will can help you with those objectives. Some of the benefits of a will include:
- Decide what happens to your assets. If you do not do this, the Illinois Probate Act will govern the distribution of your property. If you have specific desires about who inherits what, a will is critical to ensure this happens.
- You establish a plan for your children. Every family with minor children or those who are dependent on your care should have a will. If you die early, a will tells the court who you believe should care for your children. You can also use it to carve out funds to care for them. This can include an Illinois Uniform Transfer to Minors provision, or the creation of another type of trust to support their development until they are adults.
- Select someone to manage your affairs after your death. At times, appointing an Executor is preferred simply to avoid fighting between loved ones after your death. The Executor will be subject to the terms of your will. Having that peace of mind can be helpful to many residents of Springfield, Illinois.
When a person dies without a will, the probate process becomes more time-consuming, expensive, and complex. Families fight. In some situations, what’s important to you is no longer the focus of litigation. This can be avoided by creating a will that matches your goals now.
What Happens If I Don’t Have a Will?
Sometimes, an individual will pass away without a will. In that case, no Executor is named to process the person’s estate (the individual dies “intestate”). If a person dies without a will, the Illinois Probate Act provides that after all just claims against his estate are fully paid, descends and shall be distributed as follows:
- If there is a surviving spouse and also a descendant of the decedent: 1/2 of the entire estate to the surviving spouse and 1/2 to the decedent’s descendants per stirpes.
- If there is no surviving spouse but a descendant of the decedent: the entire estate to the decedent’s descendants per stirpes.
- If there is a surviving spouse but no descendant of the decedent: the entire estate to the surviving spouse.
- If there is no surviving spouse or descendant but a parent, brother, sister or descendant of a brother or sister of the decedent: the entire estate to the parents, brothers and sisters of the decedent in equal parts, allowing the surviving parent if one is dead a double portion and to the descendants of a deceased brother or sister per stirpes the portion which the deceased brother or sister would have taken if living.
- If there is no surviving spouse, descendant, parent, brother, sister or descendant of a brother or sister of the decedent but a grandparent or descendant of a grandparent of the decedent: (1) 1/2 of the entire estate to the decedent’s maternal grandparents in equal parts or to the survivor of them, or if there is none surviving, to their descendants per stirpes, and (2) 1/2 of the entire estate to the decedent’s paternal grandparents in equal parts or to the survivor of them, or if there is none surviving, to their descendants per stirpes. If there is no surviving paternal grandparent or descendant of a paternal grandparent, but a maternal grandparent or descendant of a maternal grandparent of the decedent: the entire estate to the decedent’s maternal grandparents in equal parts or to the survivor of them, or if there is none surviving, to their descendants per stirpes.
The Courts will often have to become involved when someone passes away without a will. The law looks down and out to locate descendants until there is no one but the State of Illinois to inherit from the estate. Often, the court will have to enter an order determining who the actual heirs and beneficiaries are. This can lead to fighting especially when one heir does not notify the Court that other heirs exist.
What Needs to Be In My Will?
There can be all sorts of provisions in your will and the options are virtually endless. Wills must be written and signed by the testator in the presence of two or more credible witnesses. Beneficiaries should not act as witnesses if possible. The will can include all types of provisions as long as the basic fundamental legal requirements are met.
The testator may bequeath property to individuals, corporations, trusts, and the like. Upon death, the Executor of the will may obtain an order from the court to “admit” the will to “probate.” This is just the fancy legal term of opening a probate estate within the court system in order to transfer the real and personal estate of the testator bequeathed in that will.
What if I Have Young, Estranged, or Adopted Children?
One primary area of concern within your will is the distribution of your assets to your children. If you have children, those children cannot inherit assets until after they reach the age of eighteen.
If you pass away before your children are adults, you will need to identify whom you wish to take legal responsibility for the care of your children until they are eighteen. Also, carefully consider who will take over the legal responsibility for handling the funds of their inheritance in an ethical manner. Generally, the law treats adopted children the same as if they were biological children.
Many parents prefer that children do not inherit funds until they are older than eighteen. If that is the case, you will need to consider forming a trust. You have options in this regard. There are uniform “transfer to minor” terms that can be placed in a will. You can place traditional trust provisions in your will. You can also create a trust prior to your death, in a “living” trust, and place assets into that trust for named beneficiaries. The attorneys for wills at the Noll Law Office can run you through this process.
For now, just recognize that you should probably create a plan for minor beneficiaries. The Illinois Probate Act of 1975 is fairly clear that minors who will receive more than $10,000. 00, will be subject to a “probate” estate under court supervision of the funds, unless other steps are taken to appropriately plan for the inheritance assets. Proper planning will alleviate this issue.
If you wish to disinherit anyone, or alternatively to name beneficiaries who are not related to you, additional special terms will be required in the will. The Noll Law Office probate attorneys can help you with all of these issues.
What Happens With My Will After I Die?
Generally, when a person passes away their family or loved ones will attempt and locate his or her last will and testament. In Illinois, the deceased individual’s (called the testator) last will and testament is to be filed with the Circuit Clerk of the County in which the person resided within 30 days of the person’s death. The will may or may not result in a probate estate being opened with the Circuit Court in that County. Sometimes a person may have created certain trust provisions in order to avoid probate. At other times, a small estate affidavit is all that is required due to limited assets within the estate. Your attorney can help you with understanding these options and what is required based on the will and size of the estate involved.
Regardless, the text of the will contains a provision appointing an Executor (and sometimes an alternative Executor), who will take care of administrating the estate in accordance with the deceased person’s will. This includes the distribution of the decedent’s property in accordance with the terms of that will.
To begin that probate process, a petition to admit the will or enter letters of office is filed with the Circuit Clerk. The Court after the hearing will typically issue “Letters Testamentary” which allow the executor to begin the process of administering the estate. An oath of office must be filed confirming that the executor will uphold his duties on behalf of the estate. The potential heirs and legatees must be notified of the proceedings and given certain notices as well. Children are usually appointed a Guardian ad Litem to oversee the distribution of their portion of the estate. There are special protections for disabled persons as well.
The Court will determine who the heirs are and enter an order for executorship and heirship. Inventories and appraisals of properties will commence. The executor usually has quite a bit of discretion in processing the property in accordance with the will’s parameters. This may include:
- selling real estate or personal property;
- distributing personal effects such as specific items of jewelry or other mementos to the person named in the will; and
- other routine actions taken to dispense with the estate.
The Executor will pay approved debts or claims against the state. Then, the assets of the estate will generally be distributed to heirs. Assets typically refer to information on real estate, personal property, checking and savings accounts, retirement accounts, stocks and bonds, and other property that holds monetary value.
If the decedent owned real estate, you should obtain a copy of the deed to determine whether or not the deed must go through the probate process or is transferrable on death to another individual. Similarly, oftentimes financial accounts and life estate insurance contracts will have beneficiary clauses that allow the account proceeds to be directly paid or transferred to a specific recipient.
What Happens with My Property After I Die?
The duty of settling and distributing the estates of decedents under the supervision of the courts is ordinarily given to “executors” and “administrators” who are referred to as the “personal representatives” of the deceased. This representative will pay the debts or claims against the estate and distribute the remaining property in terms of the will. Sometimes a will simply pours assets into a trust as in the case of a pour-over trust.
The Illinois Probate Act allows for independent administration or supervised administration of the estate. Supervised administration isn’t always required. This is especially applicable when the heirs are capable of making an effective distribution without court oversight. This includes dividing the property among themselves and paying the debts of the decedent.
If a person dies without a will, “letters of administration” are issued to an “administrator.” If a person dies with a will, an “Executor” is the person who is appointed by the will. If you die with a will, your “executor” must distribute your property in accordance with the text of the will. The text contained in the will provides directions on how the estate property is handled. The main difference is that without a will, an “administrator” must follow the terms of the Illinois Probate Act of 1975 when handling your estate. Simply put, Illinois law will decide who receives your property.
Not all property has to go through the probate process. At times, the property can be distributed through the use of a “small estate” affidavit. At other times, trusts can be created prior to a person’s death. That trust can handle the property after a person dies. Various financial accounts can be set up to have direct beneficiaries that receive the assets of those accounts upon a person’s death. Moreover, real estate can be placed in deeds whereby the property automatically transfers to another upon the death of the owner.
Your attorney can (and should) go through these options with you. With proper planning, your property distribution can usually be arranged prior to your death. The probate attorneys at the Noll Law Office can help you with this and provide you with legal advice on various steps that you can take to prepare for your estate distribution.
What if My Will was Executed Outside of Illinois (or Outside the United States)?
Wills created in other states just need to be proved as valid to be entered into probate in the State of Illinois. If the will was created in accordance with the law of the place where it was executed, Illinois law allows admittance to probate. A will cannot be admitted to probate if there is proof of fraud, forgery, compulsion or other improper acts that the Court finds is sufficient to invalidate the will.
If you have or will purchase property located in foreign countries, you should strongly consider either obtaining an “international” will or creating a separate will for property owned in that foreign country, that is created pursuant to that foreign country’s laws. A will lawyer can insert provisions to your domestic will to avoid further disputes. Simply stated, foreign countries may not recognize Illinois probate law or wills executed within the United States when interpreting how your estate property should be distributed.
If you have potential beneficiaries, such as close relatives, who live in a foreign country, you should strongly consider including the relatives’ biographical data (dates of birth, etc.) in the will together with their last known addresses and phone numbers. It can sometimes be difficult to locate the next of kin that are in foreign countries. Therefore, it is helpful for your estate to have basic information about your beneficiaries prior to your death to avoid delays in probate.
Finally, if you plan on permanently moving to a foreign country for retirement or other reason, you should notify this firm and make an informed determination on whether you should obtain a will in that country or consider an international will.
Can My Will Address My Taxes?
Most wills have provisions relating to the payment of the decedent’s taxes. Some taxes on the decedent’s estate property are small and routine (for example, real estate property taxes). Other taxes, such as the inheritance tax, should be avoided if at all possible. In those cases, sometimes a will can be used in combination with trust provisions to minimize tax exposure to the estate assets.
You should speak with a tax representative about the assets you will place into your estate. You should also have a very frank and honest discussion with your attorney for wills about what assets you have, or expect to have, at the time of your death.
During 2021, the federal estate tax was 11. 7 million dollars. The tax was set to rise to $12. 06 million in 2022, however, legislation was proposed to drastically reduce that threshold, given the costs of the Covid-19 pandemic. It remains to be seen what will happen in the future.
The Illinois estate tax rate is graduated and goes up to 16%. However, it is only applied to estates worth more than $4 million. Simply put, this means that if you pass away and your total estate is worth less than $4 million, the estate won’t owe a tax obligation to the State of Illinois. If your estate is worth more than $4 million, though, there is a progressive estate tax rate for all wealth your estate will have to pay before money can be dispersed to your heirs.
All of these tax rates are subject to change by the legislatures. The estate tax rate will probably change in future years. If your assets will exceed or approach that threshold, it is strongly recommended that you consider forming a trust as opposed to a simple will, in order to better protect your assets.
What Do Attorneys for Wills Do?
An attorney, like the lawyers at Noll Law Office, can provide a wide range of supportive resources for you regarding your estate plan. A will is only one potential component of that plan but should be carefully drafted to help you effectuate your estate goals. Your attorney for wills can help you draft a tailored will for your needs, that can:
- Appoint your preferred Executor to handle your estate after you pass away;
- Make any special gifts that you wish to bequest (for example, to churches, favorite nonprofit companies, and the like);
- Identify your funeral wishes;
- State what property will be given to each heir;
- Appoint guardians for your children, should you die while they are minors;
- Draft will provisions or trust provisions to help take care of children or other family members who have special medical needs.
This list is not exhaustive. After your death, your attorney for wills can work with your named Executor to ensure your will is carried out and manage the probate process.
How to Select the Best Attorney for Your Current Situation and Future Needs
Hiring an attorney to create and manage your will is quite important. Even if you do not have a large estate, creating a basic will ensures your wishes are known. When choosing an attorney for wills, be sure they have experience working with wills specifically. If you have specific or complex needs, your attorney should also be able to help you create a solution that works for you.
A will can be a complex document, or it can be very simple. Having an attorney who can explain all the options to you is extremely important. These conversations should include trust issues, tax thresholds (i.e. inheritance tax concerns), provisions for minor children or disabled relatives, and other needs specific to you.
How the Noll Law Office Will Protect Your Family and Preserve Your Legacy
The will drafting lawyers at the Noll Law Office in Springfield, IL, are ready to help you. With years of experience and dedication to working closely with their clients, they are committed to ensuring your wishes are defined and followed. Contact them today to discuss your needs at a free initial consultation at (217) 414-8889.