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Expertise - Best Probate Lawyers in Chicago

Estate Planning

Tax Alert 2024

The IRS announced the official estate and gift tax exemptions for 2024. The annual gift exclusion will increase, allowing individuals to give $18,000 to as many individuals as desired, each year.

The federal estate tax exemption will increase from 2024's $12.92M to $13.61M per person for 2023. This means an individual could shield $13.61M from federal estate or gift taxes, and a married couple could safeguard $27.22M with proper planning.

No one likes to face their own mortality, but in today's world only two things are certain: Death and Taxes. Planning for your death can be a grueling process, but when done properly, you can create a safety net for your family and direct how to distribute your accumulated wealth. Everyone's situation is unique, and no one estate plan fits every individual.

The Chicagoland Estate Planning Lawyers at Bellas & Wachowski work with their clients to help create a comprehensive estate plan that allows clients to feel safe and secure that they have provided for their children (or families, friends or heirs) so that they can lead healthy, productive and confident lives. Often, the primary goal is to help avoid probate.

When you pass away or become incapacitated, you do not want a stranger to make the important decisions about your life and your assets or how to raise your children. You can make all the important decisions now, and make them legally binding, by working with an estate planning attorney.

Working out an estate plan need not be a stressful experience. At Bellas & Wachowski, our Chicagoland Estate Planning Lawyers will carefully and compassionately guide you to the best solution for you.

The world of estate planning is a complex area. At Bellas & Wachowski, we are committed to providing you with knowledge regarding the various areas and devices used in each unique estate plan we create.

We can help you with common estate planning devices such as:

We can help you with less common estate planning devices such as a Third Party Special Needs Trust.

No matter what the size of your estate, there are 3 legal documents everyone should have:

  • Will: Helps ensure your assets are distributed the way you want, not how a probate court decides.
  • Durable Power of Attorney for Healthcare: Names someone to make medical decisions on your behalf should the need arise.
  • Durable Power of Attorney for finances: Designates someone to take care of money matters should the need arise.

The ultimate goals are to protect you should incapacitation occur and to protect your family.

Make Sure Your Estate Plan is up to Date.

Rules and regulations that control the estate planning process are constantly changing. With new laws, technology, and the ever-changing circumstances of life, your current estate plan may not be as complete as you think. Our Estate Planning Lawyers can review your estate plan. Wondering if your estate plan is up-to-date? The following considerations are a few circumstances in which an estate plan may need to be updated:

  • Are the individuals names in your estate plan still accurate: If names have changed from marriage or divorce, you've had another child or become a grandparent, or someone has become incapacitated or passed away, you may want to update your estate plan.
  • Common Trust Mistakes: Ask an attorney to review your trust to make sure your estate plan doesn't fall victim to common mistakes such as not being properly funded, not properly naming a successor trustee, or improper execution. Even the simplest mistake could invalidate your estate plan.
  • Does your estate plan allow access to your digital accounts?: Without permission, it is illegal to access a deceased persons online accounts.
The Bellas and Wachowski Guide to Probate

If you've had a loved one pass, you may be wondering what are the next steps. You may be named as an Executor in someone’s Last Will and Testament, or named a Trustee of a Revocable Trust and need guidance. The Probate process is a complex area of law with many regulations and requirements that are easy to overlook. Regardless of your situation, we've created the Bellas and Wachowski Guide to Probate to help answer burning questions such as:

  • What is Probate? A great starting point to understanding the probate process where you can find out what exactly is "Probate".
  • What happens if you die without a will? If a person dies without a will, also known as dying "intestate," there are complex steps that need to be followed to properly distribute that person's assets.
  • What are my duties as an Executor or Trustee? An Executor or Trustee has a variety of fiduciary duties, including accounting, gathering assets and distributing the estate. Ignoring these duties may subject the estate to litigation and even cause the Executor or Trustee to be personally liable for any mistakes.
  • Do I have to File a Tax Return? There are a variety of tax forms that may need to be filed depending on the size of the estate and the types of estate planning vehicles used. Find a list of tax forms and their uses in this section.
  • What is Probate Administration? This section of our guide explains the probate process. Will I need to go to court? How do I open an estate account? Can I use a small estate affidavit? The answers to these questions, and more, can be found in this section.
  • What is Trust Administration? Like Probate Administration, administering a trust is a complex process. Whether the trust is used to escape probate, provide for a loved one with a disability, or to protect assets, each type of trusts has its own unique rules to follow. This section helps explain the various requirements of each specialized trust and its administration.

The firm of Bellas & Wachowski Attorneys at Law can help you make the necessary estate planning decisions in a cost-effective manner. Contact Attorney Tracy Ries at tracy@bellas-wachowski.com 847.823.9030 x221 for more information.