cook county estate planning lawyerMany people put off conversations about estate planning for years, and understandably so. Conversations about end-of-life care, inheritance, and other sensitive topics around estate planning can be uncomfortable and sad for parents and children. Furthermore, many parents assume that if they do not write a will, their children will automatically inherit anything they have. If the family home is the single or most valuable possession they will pass on, they may assume the children will inherit it equally. 

Unfortunately, this is not always true. Although making an estate plan can bring up unpleasant thoughts and feelings, putting it off or not doing it at all is a mistake for the parents and the children. If distributing your property after you pass away is important to you, it is essential to create an estate plan reflecting your wishes. 

What Happens to a Home If There is No Will? 

If one partner in a married couple passes away and there is no will, what happens next will depend on whether the deceased partner has any living descendants. If there are no children, grandchildren, or great-grandchildren, the surviving spouse inherits the full property of the deceased spouse. If there are living descendants and no will, the surviving spouse receives half of the deceased spouse’s inheritance, and the first line of living descendants (usually the deceased spouse’s children) will divide the other share. If there is only one parent alive and that parent passes away, the children inherit everything. 


dupage county estate planning lawyerAs you begin the process of planning your estate, you may be worried about making sure you take the right steps to protect yourself and your loved ones. Unfortunately, mistakes are common during estate planning, especially when people do not have the help of an attorney. Before you take steps to protect your wishes in a will, trust, or other estate planning instrument, consult with an Illinois estate planning lawyer who can help you make sure you have all the information you need to set up a plan that meets your needs. Here are some common estate planning pitfalls to avoid. 

Not Discussing Your Estate Plan

Many people keep their estate plan a secret because they fear they will expose themselves to criticism, open up interpersonal conflict within their family, or because they are just afraid to bring up an unpleasant topic. But experts say it is better to have these sensitive conversations before someone is surprised by being designated as your beneficiary, executor, or power of attorney. You do not need to divulge all the details of your estate plan, but you can minimize confusion and provide clear direction by keeping all relevant parties informed.

Not Updating Your Estate Plan

The only constant in life is change, and this is never more true than when planning for how your estate will be managed. Divorce, death, new additions to the family, or family disagreements may necessitate updating your estate plan from time to time. Even if you are not sure whether you need to make any changes, regularly reviewing your estate plan will ensure it is still meeting your needs. 


dupage county estate planning lawyerDespite the importance and usefulness of a will, fewer than one-third of Americans have one. Yet having a will is a very important part of protecting your beneficiaries (the people who will inherit your belongings), and is even more important for parents of young children. Even if you think you have very little wealth to pass on, a will contains information that will protect your children and your wishes for them if something happens to you. Learn more about why wills are so important for young parents, and then contact an Illinois estate planning attorney for help writing yours. 

Why Should Young Parents Have a Will? 

For young parents, the single most important reason to have a will is that it provides the opportunity to designate your child’s legal guardian if one or both parents pass away. If only one parent passes away, the surviving parent is usually given legal custody. However, not all children have two parents who can care for them. In some tragic cases, both of a child’s parents pass away. If something happened to you and your child’s other parent, who would you want to care for your child? Naming a guardian is the best way to ensure that this vital decision is up to you. If you do not name a guardian, the decision about who will care for your child will be left up to the court. 

Another important reason to create a will is to ensure that property is distributed according to your wishes if you pass away. Without a will, state law dictates how belongings are distributed. Minors cannot legally manage money or property that they have inherited until they turn 18 in Illinois. You may want to set up another legal instrument, such as a trust, to manage your property. A trust enables you to designate a trustee who will hold property on behalf of your child. 

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