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Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Another Option for Dan

Dan is taking care of his daughter, Ann, after his beloved Abby’s death in a car crash.  Last week, we wrote about Dan coordinating the beneficiary designations of his life insurance and 401K with his Will. 

However, Dan wonders if he should do a trust for himself right now, with a contingent trust for Ann in the future.  That way, his estate would not need to go through the probate court to get into Ann’s trust.  

More important to Dan, though, is that his trust would be in effect before his death, when it could avoid probate court while he’s still alive.

If Dan were to become disabled, his trust would allow his brother, Sam, to manage Dan’s assets to pay the necessary bills for both Dan and Ann.  And Sam would not have to petition the probate court to do it or file yearly reports with the court.

That takes care of both Dan and Ann, in the event Dan has some unexpected accident that disables him either permanently or temporarily.

Surviving spouses need to take action to protect themselves and their family in the event of another unexpected death.  For help with your own estate plan, call our office at (815) 436-1996 for an appointment.

© 2014 Gruber Law Office


Tuesday, February 18, 2014

More Urgent Business for Dan

Dan is taking care of his daughter, Ann, after his beloved Abby’s death in a car crash.  Last week, we wrote about Dan working to protect Ann’s future if he were also to pass away unexpectedly.  First, he named a person to take care of Ann until age 18 or high school graduation and someone to manage her money to the age of 24 in a contingent trust in his Will. 

But a good estate plan involves more than just an effective will.  Only “probate assets” would go into the trust via Dan’s will.  Probate usually would not include his life insurance payout or 401k plan, because those are paid out according to specific beneficiary designations. 

To make his will-based estate plan work, he needs to make adjustments to his beneficiary designations.  After all, right now they still name Abby as his beneficiary, and she obviously will not be able to inherit them from the grave. 

Dan decides to name the contingent trust for Ann to be created under his will as the new beneficiary of his 401k and life insurance.  He will name Ann herself as his alternate beneficiary, in case she is already 24 years old at the time of his death.

To do this, he must obtain, complete and turn in the paperwork required by each life insurance company and his employer for his 401k plan.Surviving spouses need to take immediate action to protect their family in the event of another unexpected death by doing estate planning.  For help with your own estate plan, call our office at (815) 436-1996 for an appointment.

© 2014 Gruber Law Office


Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Urgent Business for Dan

Dan is taking care of his daughter, Ann, after his beloved Abby’s death in a car crash.  It would have been easier for Dan to protect Ann’s inheritance for her future if Dan and Abby had done some “just in case” planning before Abby’s death.

Fortunately, most of Abby’s property went directly to Dan, and Ann will inherit little more than a half interest in the house at age 18.  If Dan were to unexpectedly die, however, Ann would not only be an orphan, she also would inherit a very large amount of money and property at 18 if he does no planning now. 

Thus, it is particularly important for Dan to do some “just in case” planning now.  He needs to name a person to take care of Ann till age 18 or high school graduation, as well as someone to take care of her money to an older age he chooses in a contingent trust in his Will. 

Dan needs to do this as soon as possible, even before Abby’s own estate is settled.  After all, Abby’s death reminded him of how uncertain life can be, and now he is Ann’s only remaining parent. 

Surviving spouses need to take immediate action to protect their family in the event another unexpected death by doing estate planning.  For help with your own estate plan, call our office at (815) 436-1996 for an appointment.

© 2014 Gruber Law Office


Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Taking Care of Ann

Dan is taking care of his daughter, Ann, after his beloved Abby’s death in a car crash.  It would have been easier for Dan to protect Ann’s inheritance for her future if some “just in case” planning had been done by Dan and his wife Abby in the years after Ann’s birth before the crash.

Such planning, called estate planning, could have eliminated the requirement that Dan give Ann her inheritance directly at the age of 18, when Ann is unlikely to be able to manage the money most responsibly.

Dan could protect Ann’s inheritance better using a “contingent” trust for a minor in Abby’s Will.  The trust is called contingent because the trust would never be created existence unless Abby died before Ann turned an age specified in the Will. 

However, because Abby did pass away in the tragic crash while Ann was still a minor, any of Abby’s property left to Ann would have been placed in a specially-created minor’s trust.  And the trust could specify that Dan would keep control of the money in the trust until Ann was 25 years old.  Or Abby could choose an even older age for Ann to receive any remaining trust money.

And until Ann reached that age, the property in the trust would be protected from any creditor to whom Ann might owe money, as well as from being misspent or badly invested by Ann herself before she is a more experienced money manager.

Taking care of your family after an unexpected death can be made easier and more effective with proper planning.  For help with your own estate plan, call our office at (815) 436-1996 for an appointment.

© 2014 Gruber Law Office, Ltd.


Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Too Much Power Too Soon

Six-year-old Ann’s father, Dan, knows his wife would have wanted him to take care of Ann, but his job has been needlessly complicated by the fact Abby died with no will or other estate plan.  Because he was never added to the deed for their home, Dan is only half owner of the home; Ann owns the other half. 

Dan will have to report to the probate court yearly until Ann is 18 about what he has done with Ann’s share of the house. Plus, once Ann is 18, she would be able to block or delay any sale of the home or could even try to force her father to sell or to give her cash for her share of the home.

Her mother Abby surely never intended that Dan’s decision-making on that issue to be subject to their daughter’s wishes at the age of 18.  

When a minor inherits property, the probate court must oversee the handling of that property by a guardian of her estate appointed for her, even if the guardian is her father.  And the minor is usually entitled to take control of her property at adulthood, which is age of 18 under Illinois law. 

Probate can be shortened, simplified or even avoided altogether by proper planning.  For help with your estate plan, call our office at (815) 436-1996 for an appointment.

© 2014 Gruber Law Office


Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Twelve Years in Probate

Ann is at that magical age of 6, a great source of joy for her parents.  Her parents, Dan and Abby, are too busy to go to a lawyer for estate planning but figure they have plenty of time. Unfortunately, tragedy overtakes Abby in a highway accident, and Dan and Ann are left to do the best they can without her.  

     First, Dan must go to probate court to transfer ownership of Abby’s property to the people who are supposed to inherit. Under Illinois law for people who die without a Will, the surviving spouse takes half the property transferred through probate with any surviving children taking the other half. 

Because Dan was never added to the deed of the house which Abby had owned before they married (too busy for the lawyer again), 6-year-old Ann now owns half the house with her father. 

And it will be 12 long years before she is 18, which is the minimum amount of time her father will have to deal with the probate court regarding their home, even though a typical Illinois probate only takes from 6 months to 2 years. 

Next week, we will explain why Dan will be in probate court so long.  Probate can be shortened by proper planning, and it can even be avoided altogether.  For help planning your estate, call our office at (815) 436-1996 for an appointment.

© 2014 Gruber Law Office


Tuesday, January 14, 2014

It's Not Too Late

It’s January already, and Pam and Tom are surprised to realize that they still do not have an estate plan. Like many parents, they wanted to see an attorney about doing a Will before the baby was born. 

All that pregnancy excitement and then baby milestones somehow flew by, and now their first baby is eleven and has two younger siblings.  So they are feeling a bit chagrined, but they decide to finally get this off their minds. 

When they mention their delay to the attorney, she explains the obvious – it is better to do it late than never.  In fact, most estate plans are done much later than originally intended.  A survey of attorneys revealed that the average “age” of an estate plan that clients bring in to review is 30 years, older than all of Pam and Tom’s kids combined. 

Fortunately, neither are dead nor disabled, so it is clearly not too late.  On the other hand, the 30-year average age of an estate means that their attorney should ask some questions about farther out in the future than Pam or Tom have probably considered.  After all, she can’t realistically assume that they’ll revisit their plan in less than 30 years.

Estate planning is future planning for our families and should be thought about regularly.  We suggest that each person review their estate plan with an attorney at least 10 times more often than average.  In plain English, that would be at least every three years.  To review yours, call our office at (815) 436-1996 for an appointment.  ©2014 Gruber Law Office, Ltd.


Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Fred Gets One More Title

“I can’t believe we need a Will after we spent all that time doing our Trust!” Fred exclaimed.  “Well, Fred,” Wilma answered, “Sam Solid, our lawyer said that it’s just like having another job title, which will be Testator.” 

“I guess it’s all right, but why would we need it?” Fred asks, “After all, Sam said that after we transfer all the property into our Trust, it will say who gets it after we die.”

Fortunately, Wilma was listening more closely than Fred.  “When we die, Fred, some things might not be in the Trust, like our last pension check.”  Sam also them that if the Flintstones had a lawsuit against a driver who had rear-ended them still pending when they died, that probably wouldn’t be in the Trust until the case was done.

“Plus, the Will we need is really simple,” Wilma remembers, “because it just says that all our remaining property should be ‘poured over’ into our Trust.  The Trust will still control where everything goes.”

So Fred became a “testator,” otherwise known as a person who has made a Will, and of course was heard to be bragging around the Rubbles’ house about it later that week.

For advice about whether a Living Trust suits your needs and how to plan your estate, call our office at (815) 436-1996 for an appointment.

©2013 Gruber Law Office, Ltd.


Tuesday, December 17, 2013

An Insured Trust Transfer for Fred

Fred worried a little as he gave Wilma the letter from their lawyer, Sam Solid.  “Wilma, what if someone has sued us?” he asks.

“Fred, this should be something good, probably about our new Trust,” Wilma tells him.  “I’m right!  Our house is now officially owned by our Trust,” she says as she opens it to see a copy of the recorded Deed they signed about a month earlier at Sam’s office. 

“I’m glad that we already told our homeowners insurance agent to add the Trust onto our policy as an additional insured,” Wilma says. ‘Why?’ asks Fred.

“Sam told us we needed to do that so we would be sure to have our whole house insured in case a rock slide wiped it out,” Wilma explains. 

Sam told them their homeowner’s insurance pays up to the value of their ownership interest in the house, but that once they signed the deed transferring the house, their Trust would own it, not them.  “So if we didn’t list the Trust on our policy, the insurance company could deny our claim if the house was destroyed, because we technically don’t own it anymore,” Wilma remembers.

For advice about safeguarding your assets when you transfer them into your living trust, call our office at (815) 436-1996 for an appointment.

©2013 Gruber Law Office, Ltd.


Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Fred Gets His Trust

“Now we have it!” Fred was flushed with success as he left his lawyer’s office.  “We are now Trustees, Beneficiaries and Grantors of the Flintstone Family Trust.” 

“Not so fast, Fred. Right now our Trust only has our household furniture, appliances and gardening equipment in it,” Wilma reminded him.  “We can’t exactly say that is worth getting very high and mighty about yet.”

Two weeks later, Fred wonders why he must fill out yet another form for his Trust.  “It sure does take a lot of work to be Grantor of our Trust,” he complains.  “It seems I’ve been signing letters and filling out transfer forms practically every night.”

 “That’s the price of owning so many different things,” Wilma points out.  “But it’s really important that each asset we have be formally transferred into our Trust, and it will be over pretty soon.”

“Yes, after all, from now on,” Fred agreed, “we will be able to put our stuff into the Trust right away and not have to ask for any changes to transfer it later.”

For advice about whether a Living Trust suits your needs and how to transfer all your assets into it properly, call our office at (815) 436-1996 for an appointment.

©2013 Gruber Law Office, Ltd.


Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Fred Takes Over

“Wilma, you won’t believe what our lawyer Sam said at the seminar he gave at the Lodge tonight!” Fred exclaimed, “We heard all about the best Living Trust.”

“We wouldn’t just be Trustees and beneficiaries of the Trust like Barney and Betty are in the Rubble Trust,” Fred explained.  “We would be both of them and the Grantors.”

“I can’t wait to get to our appointment with Sam next week and get us that living trust.  I swear, Barney was just turning green with envy, because he can’t afford to redo the Rubble Trust to make him a Grantor,” he gloated. 

“What does being a Grantor mean?” Wilma finally managed to interrupt to ask.  “It means,” Fred said, importantly, “that we are the people who fund the Trust.”

“Oh, so it will be our property, like our house and savings accounts that we will transfer into the Trust?” Wilma asked out loud.  But, as she later told Betty, she did manage to keep from blurting out that the Rubbles had done just that too.

“Exactly!  Without Grantors transferring property to a Trust, a Living Trust is nothing, just plain useless!” shouted Fred triumphantly.

For information on all the roles in a Living Trust and whether a Trust suits your needs, call our office at (815) 436-1996 for an appointment.

©2013 Gruber Law Office, Ltd.


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