Fagan, Fagan & Davis has been protecting people in Illinois for decades, and in that time, our clients have always viewed us as their trusted advisors. So when it comes to finding an Illinois wills and trusts lawyer to protecting the wealth and assets of their families, it's no surprise they've turned to us for counsel when it comes to estate planning in Illinois.
Estate Planning - Not Just a Will
Most people have heard of wills. Some have even taken the step of drafting a will, and hopefully, properly executing one in a way that is effective under Illinois law. However, we've found that many people fundamentally misunderstand what a will is and what it can do, even experienced Illinois lawyers. And even more importantly, many misunderstand what a will can't accomplish. Knowing the difference can be vital to protecting your family, and is where an Illinois Estate Planning lawyer can really help guide you depending on your wishes.
What a Will Can and Can't Do
Everyone knows something about wills - wills explains what you want to happen once you pass away. That means it's important not only that a will be written in a way that makes those wishes clear, but also that contingencies are in place to deal with any difficulties in actually achieving those results. It's also important to remember that a will is just a snapshot in time - they reflect your wishes when drafted and properly executed. They need to be updated and reviewed as time goes on.
What a will cannot do is important as well. There are several limitation of a will, but the two most significant are that a will can't really minimize estate taxes, and perhaps more surprising to most people, a will does not avoid probate in Illinois.
Probate Court in Illinois
Probate is a court proceeding where the government deals with your estate by paying creditors (those you owe) from your assets first, then determining what to do with anything left over after paying creditors, taxes, court costs and other expenses. At that point, if you have a will, the will gives guidance to the probate Court as to your wishes, and the Court will attempt to comply with those wishes. Without a will, the Court follows the methods set forth in the law, with the State of Illinois being the ultimate resting place for assets the Court can't deal with for any number of reasons.