What Happens If You Die Without a Will?

What Happens If You Die Without a Will?

You don’t like thinking about your death any more than other people do. However, just because it is an unpleasant subject doesn’t mean it’s something you can avoid. Sometimes, people ignore putting together a will because they think that their children or spouse will automatically inherit property and money.

Sometimes, that might be true. However, when you don’t have a will, it doesn’t mean that your assets will go where you want them to go. One of the things you will certainly end up leaving behind is a lot of stress if you don’t have a will.

What Does the Will Do?

The will is a legal document that has clear instructions on what is supposed to happen to your estate. It includes all of the details on how it needs to be handled if you die or become incapacitated. The will contains your last wishes for what you want to happen with your belongings.

You want to be the one who has control over what happens with your belongings. You don’t want the courts to be in charge.

What If You Don’t Have a Will?

In the state of Illinois, if you die without a will, it is known as dying intestate. The intestacy laws will determine who receives the deceased’s assets if there is not a will in place. In Illinois, this means that they will go to your closest relatives. Types of assets that are included in these laws include property, retirement savings you own, and bank accounts. The laws are specific about what happens to your property when you die without a will.

If this happens, it’s important to know that those who survive you will not have any say. Even if you told someone that you wanted to give them some of your property when you passed away, it won’t happen if it’s not in the will. This can often cause fights between family members and friends.

Create an Estate Plan

The best thing you can do to avoid this type of problem is to get in touch with an attorney and create an estate plan. It’s better to do this sooner rather than later even if you are young and healthy. You never know what tomorrow could bring, so it’s a good idea to make sure you are as prepared as possible. It’s time to get your will and the rest of your estate plan in order. Contact the experienced attorneys at Bell & Shaw Law, LLC today to discuss your situation more fully.

Do You Need a Marital Deduction Trust?

Do You Need a Marital Deduction Trust?

Marital trusts are a type of irrevocable trust. It lets one spouse transfer assets to a surviving spouse without any taxes needing to be paid thanks to the unlimited marital deduction. It can provide benefits that are not transferred outright. Do you need to have one of these trusts? Although you may not need one, you will find that they can be quite beneficial. They are often a good idea, so you will at least want to consider having a martial trust added.

What Does Unlimited Marital Deduction Mean?

This allows the entire estate of the first spouse to die to pass to the surviving spouse. The surviving spouse is the sole beneficiary of the trust. They have the right to withdraw income and principal from the trust. The assets that are placed in the trust are going to avoid probate at the time of the first spouse’s death. Of course, when the second spouse dies, the contents of the trust will need to go through probate, as they will be included in the second spouse’s estate.

Why Doesn’t Everyone Have a Marital Deduction Trust?

You can see that there are certainly some benefits that can come from having one of these sorts of trusts. However, they aren’t as common as they used to be for a couple of reasons.

First, the federal estate tax exemption tends to be quite large. In 2022, for example, you don’t owe any estate taxes unless you have more than $12.06 million worth of assets. Most people won’t have to worry about estate taxes.

If you have a large number of assets, or you are not married to your partner, you may still find that using a trust is a good option. If you live in a start that has state estate taxes, then you might benefit from using a martial trust, as well.

Work with an Estate Planning Attorney

If you are trying to put together an estate plan, you don’t want to do it on your own. There is too much at stake, and it is far too easy to make a mistake. You want to have some help from the experts at Bell & Shah, who can do what’s right for you and your family. Sometimes, this means setting up a marital trust as part of your plan. Other times, there could be different choices that will work better for your estate.

The Steps of Probate

The Steps of Probate

Below, we will be looking at the basics of the steps of probate. To understand the ins and outs of probate further, get in touch with an attorney at Bell & Shah Law.

Step 1: Determine if There Is a Will

When someone dies, the first step is to see whether a will exists and whether it is valid or not. This will determine whether there is an executor or an administrator. If there is a will, then it may name someone as the executor. If there is not a will, there will be an administrator. The administrator is appointed by the court.

Step 2: Gather Information and Begin Duties

The representative of the estate (executor or administrator) will then take possession of the property and ensure it is safe until it is all distributed. Those who take this role have a lot of responsibilities. The person who is named as the executor might be a family member or friend. However, it could also be an attorney.

The representative will ensure that all debts are paid and will locate the Will if one exists. They will collect assets and death benefits, get certified copies of the death certificate, check out safety deposit boxes, manage digital assets, notify the Franchise Tax Board, and notify the Social Security Administration if the decedent was receiving monthly social security benefits.

Step 3. Finding Beneficiaries and Heirs

In addition to the above duties, the representative will also need to find the heirs and beneficiaries. They may be named in the will. If there is not a will or if there are other issues, the representative will have to look for other ways of finding the rightful heirs and beneficiaries. This could be living trust, joint tenancy agreements, etc.

Step 4: Inventorying Property

The representative also has to identify all of the decedent’s property and items mentioned in the will. They will need to take a full inventory, as well, and make sure that everything is there and in order.

Step 5: Transferring the Property to the Right People

Once they know the beneficiaries and the property, they need to make sure that everyone gets what they are supposed to receive. They also need to determine the best way to transfer it to those people.

Talk with an Attorney

If you are looking to put together a will and you want to name an executor, or if you need to know more about what could happen during probate and how to avoid it, talk with an attorney at Bell & Shah Law today!

How Do Businesses Change Hands After the Death of a Loved One?

How Do Businesses Change Hands After the Death of a Loved One?

Although nobody likes to think about their mortality, it’s important that they do. They have to think about those who are left behind, and this is particularly true when they are the owner of a business.

You Need a Succession Plan

How does it change hands after you pass away? Does it just fade away and no longer exist? Typically, it will end up going to your estate. However, it can depend on how your succession plan was created—or if you had a plan in place. In cases of a family business, it will likely go to whoever you named in your estate. The family member you name should be someone you feel is qualified enough to run the business.

Who this person is might change over time, which means you may need to update the plan when it’s called for. If you haven’t properly prepared a succession plan or updated it, the business may not go to the person you want it to.

What Happens to the business

When a business goes to the estate after you die, your executor will divide the assets according to your wishes. If the estate plan doesn’t address the business, though, it is going to end up creating some confusion, and you can be sure a lot of questions will arise.When a business goes to the estate after you die, your executor will divide the assets according to your wishes. If the estate plan doesn’t address the business, though, it is going to end up creating some confusion, and you can be sure a lot of questions will arise.

One of the options is to set up a trust, which can be overseen by a board of trustees. They can take care of the business until the children are old enough. Of course, you may want your kids to benefit from the business, but you may not feel as though they should operate the company, even if they are 18 or over.

If you have children who are under 18, they may be able to inherit and own the business. However, because of their age, they will not be able to handle certain business activities, such as signing contracts. When creating a succession plan, if you have minor children, you will also have to plan for the day-to-day operations of the company.

Talk with the attornies at Bell & Shah. We Can help get your estate plan in order, and to ensure you are setting your business up for success after you have passed away. Whether you are going to give the business to your children, a spouse, or someone else, take care of the legalities before it’s too late.

Outlining the Specifics of Power of Attorney

Outlining the Specifics of Power of Attorney

You have likely heard the term power of attorney, but you may not know exactly what it means, how it is used, or any of the specifics. Essentially, it is a type of legal authorization that allows a person to have the power to act for another person. The person who is given the power of attorney is typically called the agent, while the person they can make decisions for is called the principal.

A power of attorney is often used when the principal has a temporary or permanent illness or disability, or when the principal is not available to sign certain documents.

Common Types of Power of Attorney

The types of power of attorney include general, limited powers, and durable. A general power of attorney allows the agent to act for the principal in any matter that is allowed by the laws of the state. For example, they could manage assets, handle bank accounts, sign checks, or file taxes for the principal.

A limited power of attorney on the other hand narrows what the agent can do. For example, it might state that the agent only has the power to manage certain types of accounts or to make certain types of decisions. The limited aspect could also refer to the power only being in effect for a set amount of time. For example, you might leave the country for six months or a year and allow someone else power of attorney during your time away.

When you are setting up a power of attorney, you will want to determine the scope of power that you want to provide to another person. Naturally, this will vary from case to case. You should talk with your attorney about your options.

A durable power of attorney handles some of the legal, property, and financial matters when someone is mentally incapacitated. The agent with a durable power of attorney can pay medical bills on behalf of the principal, but they can’t make major medical decisions.

However, if a principal wants an agent to have this power, they can choose to sign a healthcare power of attorney, where they can become a healthcare proxy. Financial power of attorney is another type of durable power of attorney. This can allow the agent to manage the business and financial affairs of the principal.

The best way to set up any sort of power of attorney in Chicago or elsewhere is to get in touch with Bell & Shah,  who specializes in Wills & Trust Law.

DIY Estate Planning vs. the Real Deal

DIY Estate Planning vs. the Real Deal

Everyone likes to save money. There’s nothing wrong with that in a lot of cases. However, there are some areas where you have to be extremely careful about cutting corners. Estate planning is one of those areas. Let’s look at some of the potential problems that can happen with DIY estate planning.

DIY Estate Planning Problems

Could you try to create your own will and estate plan? Although it might be technically possible, it is rarely a good idea to attempt this. You aren’t a legal expert, and you don’t know all of the ins and outs of the law in Illinois. Trying to write legal documents can end up creating a lot of problems for those you leave behind after you pass away.

Your loved ones will have to try to prove to the court that the will was executed properly and legally. This can be very difficult to do, especially in cases where the regulations were not followed.

Since you aren’t an expert in estate planning, you probably don’t know what to expect when it comes to tax planning either. You might save a bit of money on the cost of an attorney and then your family could lose a substantial amount because you didn’t properly consider how taxes will work with your estate. Ultimately, the DIY estate planning could end up costing you more than working with experienced attorneys.

Benefits of Choosing Estate Planning Attorneys

When you choose to hire an actual estate planning attorney, you can rest easy. They know and understand the law and how it will apply to your estate and what you want to do. They can help you to set up your will, trusts, and more, so that you are in control over what happens with your estate in the event of your death.

The attorney also ensures that everything is legal and binding, which helps to reduce potential issues from cropping up after you have passed away. Your loved ones will already be dealing with grief from your death. You don’t always want them to have to try to untangle a DIY estate plan that is just going to cause them more headaches in the midst of their healing.

Your best option is to speak to the attornies at Bell & Shah as soon as possible. We can help you with a set up your plan, sooner rather than later.

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