Wills, Trusts & Dying Intestate: How They Differ

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Most people understand that having some sort of an estate plan is a good thing. However, many of us don’t take the steps to have an estate plan prepared because we don’t understand the nuances between wills and trusts – and dying without either. Here’s what will generally happen if you die, intestate (without a will or trust), with a …

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Estate Planning: Why Me, Why Now, and Is a Will Enough?

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You have worked hard for years, have family members and friends you care about, and have approached a time in your life when “estate planning” sounds like something you should do, but you are not exactly sure why. You may feel that you are not wealthy enough or old enough to bother or care. Or you may already have a …

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Kids Going Away To College?

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You may have been running around for weeks, getting your new college student off to school. It’s exhilarating, and your heart likely is bursting at the seams. You’re probably prouder than words can express, but you’re also a little afraid, too. How can you make sure your kid is going to be safe at school, their new home away from …

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Wills vs. Trusts: A Quick & Simple Reference Guide

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Confused about the differences between wills and trusts?  If so, you’re not alone. While it’s always wise to contact experts like us, it’s also important to understand the basics. Here’s a quick and simple reference guide: What Revocable Living Trusts Can Do – That Wills Can’t Avoid a conservatorship and guardianship. A revocable living trust allows you to authorize your …

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Strategies for Reducing the Income Tax Squeeze on Irrevocable Trusts

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Under federal income tax laws, irrevocable, non-grantor trusts (such as Bypass Trusts and Dynasty Trusts) are subject to highly compressed income tax brackets. In 2014, the top 39.6% tax rate kicks in at only $12,500 of trust income. In addition, trusts in the top tax bracket are subject to the 20% long-term capital gains rate and a 3.8% surtax on …

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Don’t Leave Your Trust Unguarded: 6 Key Ways a Trust Protector Can Help You

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Trust protectors are a fairly new and commonly used protection in the United States. In short, a trust protector is someone who serves as an appointed authority over a trust that will be in effect for a long period of time. Trust protectors ensure that trustees: maintain the integrity of the trust, make solid distribution and investment decisions, and adapt …

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Decanting:  How to Fix a Trust That Isn’t Getting Better With Age

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While many wines get better with age, the same cannot be said for some irrevocable trusts.  Maybe you’re the beneficiary of trust created by your great grandfather over seventy years ago and that trust no longer makes sense.  Or, maybe you created an irrevocable trust over twenty years ago and it no longer makes sense.  Wine connoisseurs may ask: Is …

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Irrevocable Trust Decanting in 4 Steps

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We all need a “do over” from time to time. Life changes, the law changes, and professionals learn to do things in better ways. Change is a fact of life – and the law. Unfortunately, many folks think they’re stuck with an irrevocable trust. After all, if the trust can be revoked, why call it “irrevocable”? Good question. Fortunately, irrevocable …

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Who Should Be Your Successor Trustee?

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If you have a revocable living trust, you probably named yourself as the initial trustee so you can continue to manage your financial affairs. Eventually someone else will need to step in when you are no longer able to act due to incapacity or after your death, however. Your successor trustee plays an important role in the effective implementation of …

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How to Choose the Right Agent for Your Incapacity Plan

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A common misconception is that estate planning equates to death planning.  But planning for what happens after you die is only one piece of the estate planning puzzle.  It is just as important to make a plan for what happens if you become mentally incapacitated. What Happens Without an Incapacity Plan?                    …

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Big “Life Changes” Often Mean Big “Estate Plan Changes”

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Many people who put together an estate plan do so when they start a family – assuming they put an estate plan together at all during their lifetime. While putting an estate plan together is a good thing to do, many people make few updates once the plan has been created, despite other key life events happening over the years. …

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Don’t Rest Easy: Reopening a Closed Estate in Illinois

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When a loved one passes away, navigating the probate process can be daunting and exhausting.  Once the estate has been distributed and probate is closed, it would be nice to rest easy knowing that “what’s done is done;” however, it is important to understand that there are a few circumstances where a closed estate can be reopened again in Illinois. …

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