Probate and Estate Planning

In the event of your death, who will be responsible for paying your debts and distributing your assets? If you have minor children, who will raise them? What will happen to your accounts, your assets, your items of sentimental value? If you don't have an estate plan in place, Illinois law can provide some of the answers. But those answers may not be the ones that you want.

To take control of matters now and remove the uncertainty, call us. Daniel J. Kollias can answer all of your questions and help you prepare an estate plan that serves the best interests of you and your family.

The simplest estate planning document is a will. In a will, you designate an executor who will be in charge of figuring out what you have, paying what you owe, and distributing your remaining assets to the people you designate in accordance with your wishes. If you have children under the age of 18, your will can specify who should become their legal guardian.

The downside of using a will as your primary estate planning tool is the probate process. The word "probate" comes from the same Latin root as "to prove." Simply put, probate is an opportunity for creditors to prove the validity of their claims. The court oversees the handling of a deceased person's property to ensure that their debts are paid. That process can be expensive and take a very long time to complete, during which the beneficiaries listed in a will have no access the money left to them. If you have children who will be dependent on the money you leave to them for food, shelter, education, or medical care, the probate process can cause real hardship.

The simplest way to bypass the probate process is to establish a trust, since assets held in trust are generally not subject to probate. Trusts are legal arrangements in which one party, a "trustee," holds property for the benefit of another--the "beneficiary." By creating a trust, the "settlor" or "grantor" (i.e. the person who places property in the trust) can control the way in which the trust property will be managed and distributed, either during the settlor's lifetime or at his or her death. The trust agreement spells out the duties of the trustee or trustees, and the rights of the beneficiary or beneficiaries.

There are many different types of trusts, which vary depending on an individual's specific goals (such as minimizing taxes). There are other estate planning concerns as well, such as powers of attorney. To discuss the estate planning options that best suit your particular needs, please contact Kollias & Giese, P.C. for a free initial consultation.

Establishing a clear, detailed, and properly executed estate plan will go a long way toward ensuring that your wishes will be carried out, and may help to avoid possible confusion and arguments over your children and your assets after your death.

Whether you are interested in drawing up a will or trust, or would like a lawyer to review or revise existing ones, the experienced, practical attorney Daniel J. Kollias is ready to help.

For a free 30-minute initial consultation, please call us at (630) 407-1200, or fill out and submit our online intake form.