Estate Planning & Probate

Pet Estate Planning: What Happens to Fluffy When I Die?

Pet Estate Planning: What Happens to Fluffy When I Die?

Believe it or not, I don’t get asked about pet estate planning very often. But you know what, it’s a damn good question to ask.

Ok, so first and foremost, pets are considered property in most (if not all) states in the union. That means that when you die, they get handled in roughly the same manner as your sofa. They aren’t treated like children, there is no guardian, and goddammit the court does not care about what happens to ol’ Fuzzybutt when you pass away.

Elder Law Explained

Elder Law Explained

Elder law is not a well known practice area in most circles. The point of these posts will be to explain what elder law is and why it is important for aging people to know what their options and needs are when it comes to elder law representation. So let's get started. Elder law is a niche law practice focused on catering to the specific needs of the elderly. The most common needs that arise are Medicaid planning, general estate planning, family law issues, guardianship, and elder abuse and neglect.

Estate Planning Landmines: The IRA

Estate Planning Landmines: The IRA

Individual Retirement Accounts (IRA's) are great retirement vehicles. But they pose a danger to families doing estate planning. The danger is simple—if you handle it the wrong way, the income tax on an IRA can very quickly reach the highest tax bracket and deplete nearly 40% of the value. An IRA paid into an estate can also be subject to a 50% penalty under certain circumstances. If you want your IRA to go to your family without being depleted by taxes and penalties, read on.

Do I Need a Lawyer for a Real Estate Deal?

Do I Need a Lawyer for a Real Estate Deal?

There is a certain resistance I have noticed to using a lawyer for real estate transactions. As far as I can tell, most transactions in Decatur, Illinois are done this way. Most people use the title company for both title review and escrow and never hire a lawyer to shepherd the deal.

Yes, you should have a lawyer.

Digital Estate Planning: A Brave New World

Digital Estate Planning: A Brave New World

Digital Estate Planning: A Brave New World

The world has changed significantly in the last ten years, but the majority of estate planning lawyers haven't changed along with it. Traditional estate planning deals with tangible things—your house, car, money, and other physical items that exist in the real world. Traditional estate planning typically does not take into account your digital assets—purchased music and movies, digital photos, rights to access social media accounts, and other non-physical things that still might have some value today. Read on to learn how to plan for the transfer of your digital assets after you pass away.

Do It For Your Kids (Or: Why You Need a Will)

Do It For Your Kids (Or: Why You Need a Will)

Let's suppose you're a young parent. You're in a stable marriage with the love of your life. You've got two happy, healthy kids who love you to death. You're just starting out and you don't own much, and pretty much everything you own would go to your spouse when you die. So why get a will? You don't really need one, right?

Second Marriages & Estate Planning: It's Complicated

Second Marriages & Estate Planning: It's Complicated

A common issue for families in modern America is the need for estate planning in blended families. Estate planning is important in general, but a well-crafted estate plan can be a lifesaver when you have a blended family.

What is a blended family?

For the sake of this post, we will define a "blended family" as a family where one or both of the spouses have had a prior marriage with children. Basically, a blended family pops up when two people get married but one of them has been married before and already has children.

Trusts: A Quick Overview

Trusts: A Quick Overview

A trust, in simplest terms, is a legal arrangement where the ability to control something and the ability to enjoy that something belong to different people. When money is put into a trust, it is managed by a person called a trustee. That person has a fiduciary responsibility to take care of the money in a way that protects it from harm. The person who gets to enjoy the money is the beneficiary of the trust. What the beneficiary actually receives is decided based on the terms of the document creating the trust.

What Happens to My Stuff When I Die?

What Happens to My Stuff When I Die?

There are three ways your stuff can be disbursed when you die:

  1. If you die with a will, your stuff will be disbursed based on your the wishes you have detailed on paper. Someone you trust and name in the will is usually appointed by the Court to handle giving your money and things to the people you want them to go to.