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Park Ridge Estate Planning Law Blog

New legislation could eliminate estate tax issues for farmers

A politician in Illinois is pushing for updates to a law that he says compromises local farming families. The legislative improvements would be designed to address estate tax issues that could cause problems for agricultural legacies in the state. Reports show that Illinois is one of the most antiquated states when it comes to inheritance tax for agricultural operations and land transfer after death. A new proposed bill would repeal the older laws, allowing the state to join the majority of other jurisdictions throughout the nation.

In all, Illinois enforces a tax that ranges between about 7 percent to 16 percent for estate transfers after death. Add to that the 35 percent estate tax that can be charged for federal estate tax, and taxation for larger estates can eclipse the 50 percent mark. For small family farms, this constitutes a major tax burden that can compromise their ability to keep their business operations up and running. Those land transfer taxes cause serious harm to agricultural operations in the state, according to one Illinois representative.

Types of forms you need in your estate planning file

What types of documents do you need to have on file with an estate attorney? Estate planning can be a challenging topic, largely because so many clients are unaware of the major benefits that can come along with creating the right estate protection. Do not be caught unaware at your end-of-life stage. Instead, enlist the help of a qualified attorney to help you achieve your estate planning goals.

You need to have several key documents completed before you die. First, an advanced directive helps your loved ones and physicians know what your medical care preferences are at the end of your life. Advanced directives may include information about measures taken to resuscitate you, invasive procedures such as the use of a feeding tube or ventilator and other medical choices. Without advanced directives, your family could be left wondering exactly what you want -- which could lead to guilt and regret in the long term.

Constructive trusts move assets to victims

You have probably heard of the various types of trusts in Illinois, including irrevocable and revocable trusts, many of which are used in estate planning. Did you know that there are other types of trusts, some of which are created specifically by the courts? One example is constructive trusts.

What makes these constructive trusts different from other ones? In a typical trust, the grantor transfers ownership of property to a trustee who manages the property for the benefit of a third party who is the recipient of that property. In constructive trusts, the defendant -- who often has wrongfully seized property -- acts as the trustee and surrenders profits associated with the property to the plaintiff who has been wronged in the case.

Why every executor needs a probate and estate attorney

Getting named as an executor to someone else's estate is a dubious honor (and an unpaid one). It means that the person who passed trusted you to fulfill his or her wishes, which reflects well on your character. There can be a lot of work that comes with managing an estate. The same is true if someone names you as a trustee for an estate or end of life trust.

You need careful and comprehensive awareness of the various legal obligations you're facing, as well as the specifics of the estate plan, trust requirements or last will. Working with an experienced Illinois estate and probate attorney is wise.

Man facing estate litigation after selling photography negatives

A beneficiary of a famous Illinois woman's estate is facing legal charges after he allegedly sold negatives of the woman's high-value street photographs without court approval. The man is reportedly taking a stand against the public entity that is overseeing the estate litigation, saying that a government entity should not be in charge of her stunning collection of photographs. This is just the latest legal speedbump to be hit by the woman's estate representatives after she reportedly died nearly penniless in 2009.

Official reports show that the defendant sold off his collection of photography negatives for an estimated half-million dollars after Illinois administrators began hunting for an heir in 2014. Legal representatives from the county were attempting to proceed with asset valuation when the man sold the negatives. Now, his defiance could result in his being forced to repay the sum and forfeit claims to the estate.

What makes a will valid in Illinois?

If your will isn't valid, it literally isn't worth the paper it's written on -- which means that your personal possessions and assets will be distributed according to the way the state sees fit, not the way that you necessarily wanted.

What makes a will valid in Illinois?

Executor of will fights estate tax issues in circuit court

An Illinois man who is fighting state-mandated retroactive estate tax will be allowed to pursue his case in circuit court, according to a recent decision from a state appeals panel. The man has been fighting estate tax issues since 2011. He is the executor of an estate valued at $5 million - and he argues that it was unfairly taxed.

The plaintiff's problems all began in 2011, after the death of the woman whose property he was bound to distribute. At the time that the woman died, on Jan. 9, 2011, there had been no estate tax in the state of Illinois for about a year. Four days after the woman died, the tax was reinstated, retroactive to estates for people who had died after Dec. 31, 2010. The executor ended up paying about $423,000 in tax and interest, but he argued that he was pressured into giving up the money to avoid further penalties.

How to use estate planning to avoid challenges to your will

When it comes to setting up your estate plan, one of the most difficult topics can also be one of the simplest: How do you keep someone from challenging your will? Estate planning is designed to make the distribution of assets easier, but errant family members can cause headaches for Illinois clients. Here, we give you additional information on exactly who can challenge a will - and how you can keep your estate plan airtight to avoid a challenge.

There are three categories of people who have the legal right to challenge a will. These are the current beneficiaries of a will, the previous beneficiaries of a will and intestate heirs. There is a subtle distinction between the first two parties listed here. Current beneficiaries are those who have been named in the most recent authorized versions of the will. Previous beneficiaries are those who are named in earlier versions - someone who was "cut out," if you will.

The carrot stick of incentive trusts

If you are finding it difficult to get motivated about your estate planning, you are not alone. Many people are reluctant to spend time considering how life will go on after they have died, and this may be especially hard if you have potential heirs who may not be able to handle the inheritance you plan to leave.

It is true that only writing a will and leaving your assets in lump sums to your loved ones could be a recipe for disaster. Fortunately, there are ways to disperse your wealth and motivate your loved ones at the same time.

Probate litigation rends high-value Midwestern estate

A highly regarded Midwestern political influencer's estate is currently contested, as the woman's daughter argues that her brothers "sabotaged" her inheritance. In a probate litigation suit filed against her family members in Illinois' neighboring state of Missouri, the daughter claims that her brothers coerced her mother into signing a document to reduce her inheritance amount. The documents demand that all legal bills related to certain types of litigation be paid by the younger woman's share of the estate.

Court documents allege that the men intentionally manipulated their mother to amend a trust. The effects of those document changes left the daughter with few choices except to seek legal action, she argues. The opposing parties say that the woman has racked up more than $1 million in legal fees related to the estate administration case, and they should not have to pay for her poor decisions. The woman's brothers also say that the case was stirred up with the express intent of generating a news story about the estate planning case - they do not believe that the woman really intends to seek a reasonable outcome.

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