If you are Divorced, update your Estate Plan today!

If you are Divorced, update your Estate Plan today!

In the aftermath of a divorce, updating your estate plan may not be at the forefront of your mind. You may still be distraught and emotionally and/or physically exhausted. However, many clients don’t realize what could result if they don’t update their current estate plan in the face of a divorce. In the event of a post-divorce unanticipated death, your assets could end up being distributed to your ex-spouse. Exactly what you don’t want to have happen. The first and most important step one should take to avoid this outcome is to revoke one’s current will or trust and write a new one that excludes your ex-spouse. Because most of us, when we are happy and in love leave everything to our spouses upon our deaths, in the event of a divorce, you will most likely want the result to be different. Once your divorce has been finalized, or even if you are in the process of a divorce, you need to update your estate plan as soon as possible to make the desired changes in light of the resulting divorce. You should also think about who you now want making your decisions for you in the event your physician deems you to be disabled or incapacitated for some reason. Your ex-spouse may no longer be the person who you want making your decisions for you, but is probably still listed as your decision maker for healthcare and/or financial decisions. Some people may still trust the ex-spouse to be making those decisions for them, however, that is the exception, not the rule. In my experience, most clients want the...
Is there a minimum net worth you should have before making a will?

Is there a minimum net worth you should have before making a will?

As an estate-planning attorney I am often asked by potential clients, when should I make a will?  The simplest explanation that I give is: if you have anything of value and you want to leave it to a specific person. Long story short, if you own anything of value, if you die without a will, your estate is distributed according to the state’s rules. No one in your family has a say and they must follow the rules. Now, if you are married and you are the first to die, that makes it slightly easier in that everything other than jointly owned assets goes one-half to your spouse and one-half to your children in equal shares. If you have no children then everything goes to your spouse. Unfortunately, we do not live in a perfect world and things don’t always go according to plan. What happens if you are the second to die and you have three kids from two different marriages? Who would get what possessions? Or, you are divorced and never re-married? There are many scenarios that I have had to deal with as a probate attorney. One thing my probate clients often tell me is they wish their loved one had seen me for an estate plan before they passed away. As a parent myself, the reason why I drafted my personal estate plan was so that I could name guardians for my child in the event my husband and I pass away before she becomes 18. My child is the most valuable “thing” in my life, and if something were to happen to my husband...

What is a living will?

A living will is a document that outlines your wishes for your medical treatment should you become unable to express decisions for your medical care. In Illinois, we use a document called Power of Attorney for Healthcare for you to indicate your intensions regarding your healthcare decisions should you be unable to communicate them. In the document you have the ability to name one or multiple “health care agents” who will have the power to make healthcare decisions for you if you are unable to or do not want an make them yourself. Not only is it important for you to have a living will, but the document must also be signed properly based on current Illinois legal requirements. It is also imperative that your healthcare agent knows where the document is in the event he or she needs to produce it. It can only benefit you and your family.   Some questions that need to be answered when filling out a living will: What is most important to you in your life? How important it is to you to avoid pain and suffering? Would you rather be home or in a hospital for the last days of your life?   If you have any questions regarding a living will please contact...