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Jon and Sue

Thursday, October 8, 2015

Estate Planning Matters When You Are Alive

Jon and Sue have been engaged and living together for over two years.  They plan to get married, but wedding expenses seem almost insurmountable.  So they keep putting off the big ceremony another year.

Along with the ceremony, they have been waiting to do Wills and Powers of Attorney, thinking that they will do those after they are married and have children.

But that thinking has some flaws.  Some things may be even more important to them now than they would be after the wedding.  For example, if Jon were hospitalized, Sue has no legal family status. 

As non-family, she might be delayed or even prevented from seeing him or talking to his doctors about his condition.  And she definitely would not be considered the decision-maker for Jon’s care by medical personnel if Jon becomes unable to decide for himself.

Such health care decisions would be made by agreement of Jon’s parents, who were divorced several years ago.  Sue could hope that they agree to let her decide, but they are not required to.  In fact, since she took Jon’s mother’s “side” in the ugly divorce, she thinks his father would not cooperate with her in any circumstance.

A power of attorney for health care allows you to choose who will make your health care decisions for you in the event you cannot.  To make your own choices, call our office at (815) 436-1996 for an estate planning appointment. 

©2015 Gruber Law Office, Ltd.


Thursday, October 1, 2015

Too Young To Have Anything?

Jon and Sue think they are too young to have an estate plan.  They plan to wait until after they get married and have children to do a Will and other estate planning. 

As we wrote last week, they actually already have an estate plan; they just may not know what it is.  Illinois law gives each of them the default ‘Will’ we wrote about last week.  So if Jon passes away, for example, that will leave his bitterly divorced parents and his brother to inherit all of Jon’s probate assets, with Sue, his fiancée for over two years, to get none.

Happily for Sue, there are some non-probate assets that she may receive.  She and Jon have a joint checking account for their household expenses, so she would receive that. 

They also bought a car together and put it in both names.  So that too would be Sue’s in the event of Jon’s death. 

But some personal property they bought together does not have title registered with the Secretary of State (or elsewhere), so it might be claimed by Jon’s probate estate.

For example, Sue and Jon planned how to pay to buy their 70-inch LCD television together.  To get a discount, Jon applied for a store credit card to buy it on, and they paid off the balance about a year later.  The receipt and the card were in Jon’s name, of course, which is potentially evidence that the TV is ‘his’ and not ‘theirs.’

Planning what happens in the event of your death is important, even when it may not seem obvious.  To learn about and control your own plan, call our office at (815) 436-1996 for an appointment.  ©2015 Gruber Law Office, Ltd.


Thursday, September 24, 2015

Do You Like Your Estate Plan?

Jon and Sue think they are too young to have an estate plan.  They figure they will wait until they get married and have children to think about what will happen if either or both of them pass away unexpectedly. 

But they do in fact have an estate plan.  They effectively ‘decided’ by not deciding.  Their plan is what the ‘default’ probate laws say it is. 

Jon’s parents are divorced and his brother has not spoken to either of them in 5 years.  If Jon dies, every account or other asset he has in his name alone will be divided equally between his mother, father and brother.  And his mother and father will have ‘equal right’ to decide who would be in charge of Jon’s estate after his death. 

Unfortunately, their divorce was bitter, so the chances of them disagreeing about it are high, meaning the court would have to decide which one wins on that issue.  And Sue, who has lived with Jon for over two years and helped him buy his car, would have no say in it at all and would not be entitled to even a penny of his estate. 

Everyone has an estate plan.  It is best to know what it is.  To learn about your own plan, call our office at (815) 436-1996 to set an appointment to review it. 

©2015 Gruber Law Office, Ltd.


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