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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.


Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Fred Gets A Lawyer

When Fred heard Wilma and Betty talking about the Rubble Trust, he decided he should find a way to convince Wilma that he’d been planning to have one for the Flintstones all along. 

“Wilma,” Fred called after his Water Buffaloes meeting the next week, “I finally managed to catch Sam Solid after the meeting tonight, so your belated surprise birthday present will come soon!”

“Who is Sam Solid?” asks Wilma.  “Just the best estate planning lawyer in the greater Bedrock area,” Fred replies. 

“So what’s my present, Fred?” asks Wilma, beginning to suspect that her plan to have Fred reconsider his hasty “no” to a living trust has worked.

“You almost ruined the surprise a few weeks ago by talking to me about a trust,” Fred tells Wilma.  “But I bet you’re really surprised now that I’ve been trying to talk with Sam about one ever since your birthday back in June!”

“Oh, I guess you could say I’m surprised, Fred,” says Wilma. “But why not go to Ralph, who did the Rubbles’ trust?”

“Because Sam concentrates his law practice in estate planning,” Fred answers. “Sam spends most of his time figuring out how to help families like us plan for now and what might happen in the future. Just wait till Barney hears!”

To go over your estate with attorneys who concentrate their practice on trusts, wills and estates to plan for today and tomorrow, call us at (815) 436-1996 for an appointment

©2013 Gruber Law Office, Ltd.


Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Overheard

“The best part of the Rubble Trust, really, is that Barney and I are the beneficiaries of the Trust,” Betty was happy to explain to Wilma again, this time while Fred was listening around the corner.  “Being the trustees was just not enough for us.”

“What does that mean?” Wilma asks innocently. 

“Barney and I get to use all the stuff that we decide to buy as trustees/managers of the trust.” Betty answers, “We are the ones who get to drive our car, and then we are the ones who get to drive the new van we plan to buy when we sell the car.”

She also explained that after they died, their son BamBam would be named as the next beneficiary of the Trust.  “Because, you see, the Trust is just a piece of paper, not a person, and so doesn’t die just because both of us are gone.

“That means BamBam will get the income from the Trust property long after we die, and we even put in directions to allow him to be given the property in the Trust outright once he marries Pebbles.”

Fred could barely contain himself.  But he did, because after all he’d already put a quick but effective end to Wilma’s idea that the Flintstones get a Trust.  Now he would just have to find a way to get her to believe he was only joking before…

For information on all the roles in a Living Trust and whether a Trust suits your needs, call us at (815) 436-1996 for an appointment. ©2013 Gruber Law Office, Ltd.


Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Can't Help Listening

"Don't talk to me about a Trust," Fred scolded his wife, Wilma.  "I'm not so far gone that I'm ready to give up control of my own money."

But Wilma asked her friend Betty to mention the Trust the Rubbles had when Fred would have to overhear.  Betty, who was glad to help, later told Wilma that she and Barney were really more in control of their money and property now than before.

"We're our own trustees," she explained confidentially.  "We didn't hire a bank or add BamBam on our accounts or other stuff. Instead, we just asked the Bedrock Bank to change the names on our accounts to the Rubble Trust.  We are still on the signature cards, and nobody else is."

"If Barney and I want to sell our house," she continued, "we just sign our names as trustees on the deed at the closing." 

"Oh, Betty, you just sound so important!," Wilma exclaimed. "Is it a lot of work to be a trustee?  And do you get paid?" Wilma asked.

"It's no harder than being myself, after we got all our stuff transferred into the Trust's name, Wilma.  But you know how much trouble it is to have to convince Barney of anything good?  It's still an awful lot of trouble, and still for no pay!"

For information on rock-solid estate planning that suits your situation, call us at (815) 436-1996 to set an appointment. © 2013 Gruber Law Office, Ltd.


Monday, November 4, 2013

Trustee Guidance

Sam and Amy have been planning for the possibility that someone else could need to raise their children after their deaths.  They’ve decided to give their trustee, Sam’s sister Tina, wide flexibility to decide how to spend the funds that will go into a trust for their children.

 However, they want to give her as much guidance as they can to help her make any necessary decisions.  We often suggest that parents write a letter, which is not a formal part of the trust or their wills, to give the trustee guidance. 

In it, they can be extremely detailed or talk in broad generalities.  Sam and Amy’s wish that their children be given the opportunity (and even some pressure) to get a college degree is an obvious thing to be included. 

Special directions for Tina is that Sam and Amy feel it is appropriate to spend the trust money to fly their children out to see Amy’s parents at least twice a year, or to fly Amy’s parents in for visits or special occasions, as well. 

Of course, over the years, the specific kinds of things Sam and Amy are concerned about for their children will change.  It is easy to write a new letter and throw the old one away.

We advise our client to keep the letter in their safe deposit box or other secure place where they keep their original estate planning documents.  That way it should be found if ever needed.

 For advice about structuring a trust to carry out your wishes for your children, call our office at (815) 436-1996 for an estate planning appointment.  © 2013 Gruber Law Office, Ltd.


Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Child Care

Sam and Amy want to provide for their children after their death.  They believe it is not simply a matter of having enough money and life insurance that their children would have enough money.  They want to be sure that the money is spent as wisely as possible.

Since their daughter is only 10 and their son is 13, they know that the court would not allow them to be paid their inheritance outright if Sam and Amy were to pass away in the near future.  But they were surprised to learn that the court would release all the children’s money to them at the ripe old age of 18 if Sam and Amy don’t specify otherwise in their Wills or Trust.

Sam remembers when he was 18 and shudders to think how quickly he could have spent a large inheritance at that age and have very little to show for it when he was broke again. 

Amy remembers being very responsible when she was 18, but she thinks that managing a lot of money would have been a heavy burden for her then.  Those hard lessons about who you can trust and with what would have been far costlier.

If Sam and Amy plan ahead for the remote possibility that they could pass away before their children are really independent, they can help protect their children from themselves and from people trying to take advantage of them.  It is part of complete estate planning. 

For advice about protecting your children even after your death, call our office at (815) 436-1996 for an estate planning appointment.  © 2013 Gruber Law Office, Ltd.


Tuesday, October 22, 2013

A "Durable" Power of Attorney

Wendy, like most of us, avoided thinking about anything bad happening to her.  But then she had a bad accident falling off a horse and was unconscious for several weeks.

Unfortunately, there was no one authorized to deal with her finances during that time.  And by the time she was able to return home, her finances were a shambles. 

If she had planned ahead, Wendy could have avoided some of her financial mess.  State law allows two ways to give power of attorney to someone if case you become incompetent or disabled. 

A Durable Power of Attorney for Property allows you to decide now who would make your financial decisions later.  If you do not create a Durable Power of Attorney, the court would eventually have to decide who would control your finances.

Of course, the court won’t necessarily know who you trust most or who understands best how you would handle things.  The judge would essentially have to guess, in light of whatever evidence is brought to his attention.

No judge’s guesswork should be involved after you’ve listed your top choices in a Durable Power of Attorney.  In fact, it will often eliminate the need to go to court at all, even if you become disabled.

Careful estate planning can make a good difference.  For assistance setting up a complete estate plan, call our office at (815) 436-1996 for an appointment. ©2013 Gruber Law Office, Ltd.


Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Closing Out

Jill has been appointed independent executor of her father’s estate.  She is now ready to go to the probate court and formally close out her father’s estate. 

Her attorney presents the written receipts, consents and approvals she has received from the creditors of the estate.  She also prepared a closing report for the judge to give him an overview of the estate administration. 

The judge’s review of the file shows no objections or claims unaccounted for.  Thus, he approves the closing of the probate file and the releasing of Jill from further obligations as independent executor based on her report. 

Having received the judge’s approval, Jill pays out the final checks as shown in her report, files some information with the IRS to inform them that she has completed her work as executor, and closes the main legal proceeding necessary to follow up on her father’s sudden death.

So now she has more time to devote to the important work of helping her sister and herself deal with their futures without having to worry about financial luggage from their father’s past.

For advice about proper after-death legal procedures, either with or without probate, please call our office at (815) 436-1996 for an appointment.  ©2013 Gruber Law Office, Ltd.


Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Collecting Consents

Jill has been appointed independent executor of her father’s estate.  She has sent out copies of her accounting and proposed partial payout to all of the seventh class creditors.  Now she is waiting to receive consents from each of them before sending checks to them.

The consents she receives will make the probate court’s job simpler in approving the closing of the estate.  The court will have written evidence that all matters have been taken care of. 

And it is helpful to Jill to receive those consents before she pays any amounts to any seventh class creditors, so she knows that there will not be any last minute objection to some aspect of her accounting or her way of arranging the creditors into classes. 

And it puts pressure on the creditors to consent in order to speed the planned partial payment of their claims.  Until all agree, Jill will probably be unwilling to pay any of them without an order from the probate court. 

Creditors who have already been paid everything Jill is willing to pay (given her understanding of the probate laws) are more likely to object than creditors wanting to be sure they at least receive some payment on their claim.

For advice about proper after-death legal procedures, either with or without probate, please call our office at (815) 436-1996 for an appointment.  ©2013 Gruber Law Office, Ltd.


Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Classing Probate Claims

Jill has been appointed independent executor of her father’s estate.  She now has cash in hand from the sale of his home.  Plus, she has waited the necessary six months for creditors to send in claims after formally notifying them by publication in the newspaper and sending copies of that notice to them in the mail.

Jill has already confirmed that the claims submitted are legitimate billing amounts.  The next step for Jill is to group the claims into classes to determine how to pay them.  The classes are defined by the probate statute. 

First and second class claims, the expenses of the probate and the support award for her 16-year-old sister, will be fully paid, and about $20,000.00 more remains. 

There were no claims in classes three through six, but there are $40,000.00 of seventh class claims, the lowest class (credit cards and other unsecured bills).  That means that only half of each seventh class claim will be paid. 

Jill does not get to choose to pay some of the seventh class claims and skip others.  Instead, she pays half of the correct amount owed to each.  Next, she will prepare to obtain the creditors’ approval of her planned payments and close the probate case with the court.

For advice about proper after-death legal procedures, either with or without probate, please call our office at (815) 436-1996 for an appointment.  ©2013 Gruber Law Office, Ltd.


Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Similar But Not The Same

Jill has been appointed independent executor of her father’s estate.  She has negotiated the price on a contract for the sale of his home.  Next, she needs to have the contract reviewed by the Estate’s attorney, as would any other seller of a home. 

Selling the home from her father’s estate turned out to be very like selling her own home last year.  Jill had to wait until her buyer’s financing was in place and then wait for closing.  Before closing, she had to take all remaining personal items out of the home, so that the buyers move into an empty place to give them a fresh start. 

But she did not have to fill out a “Seller Disclosure Report” to provide to the buyer, because the Illinois law that requires that report exempts Estates from providing one.

At closing, she did notice some differences.  For example, she saw that the legal documents prepared by her attorney were a bit different.  Jill signed an Executor’s Deed at closing to transfer ownership to the buyers.  At her own closing, she had signed a Warranty Deed. 

And she also noticed that her attorney had discussed the probate and provided a certified copy of the “Letters of Office” issued by the court to the title company. 

 For advice about proper after-death legal procedures, either with or without probate, please call our office at (815) 436-1996 for an appointment. 

©2013 Gruber Law Office, Ltd.


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