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Estate Planning

TAX ALERT!

The estate and gift exemption level for U.S. Estate and Gift Taxes is set for 2018 at $11.2 million. This means that estates with more than $11.2 million in assets will be taxed by the U.S. Government at a rate of up to 40%. Estate planning can minimize the tax ramifications of this tax and leave more money for their heirs.

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 Chicago Estate Planning Lawyers at Bellas & Wachowski work with their clients to help create a comprehensive estate plan that allows them to feel safe and secure that they have provided for their children so that they can lead healthy, productive and confident lives. 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 Chicago estate planning attorneys 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:

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

  • You need a will to make sure your assets are distributed the way you want, not how a probate court decides.
  • You need a durable power of attorney for healthcare to name someone to make medical decisions on your behalf.
  • And you need a durable power of attorney for finances, which designates someone to take care of money matters.

You will need as much information as possible to make these important decisions for your family. After all, the ultimate goal is to protect your family.

Make Sure Your Estate Plan is up to Date

Rules and regulations which 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 help you review your estate plan. Wondering if your estate plain is up-to-date? Use these following considerations:

  • Properly named individuals. Whether names have changed from marriage, you've become a grandparent, or someone has passed away, you may want to update your estate plan.
  • Common Trust Mistakes. Make sure your estate plan doesn't fall victim to these common mistakes. Even the simplest mistake could invalidate your estate plan.
  • Is a Living Will useful? It may not be what you think it is.
  • 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 your next steps are. You may be named as an Executor in someone's Last Will, or a Trustee of a Revocable Trust. 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 any questions you may have.

Our Guide to Probate helps answer many common probate questions, including:

  • What is Probate? A great starting point to understanding the probate process where you can find out what exactly "Probate" is.
  • What happens if you die without a will? If a person dies without a will, also known as dying "intestate," there are complex which 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 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 or 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 hese 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.

Have more questions about estate planning or the administration process? Check out or post to our Q&A section. Still need more information? Contact us to speak with a Chicago estate planning lawyer for a FREE TELEPHONE CONSULTATION about your needs.