Creating an estate plan is a critical aspect of wealth preservation, as well as the avoidance of unnecessary taxes, expenses, and delays associated with probate. Proper estate planning allows you to:
- Control your property while you are living and well.
- Take care of yourself and your loved ones if you become disabled.
- Give your property to whom you want, the way you want, and when you want.
- Save every possible tax dollar, professional fee, and court cost for you and your loved ones.
The Estate & Business Law Group will ensure that your plan will reflect your specific needs, desires, intentions and goals, and will give you the confidence that your plan will work when you cannot speak for yourself. In addition, we also specifically design your estate plan to have the following benefits:
- Avoid Probate Costs and Delays. With proper trust funding, avoiding probate can accelerate the distribution of your estate to your beneficiaries by reducing the time necessary to settle your estate.
- Reduce or Eliminate Taxes. Our plans can significantly reduce estate taxes and estate settlement costs, and can even be structured to help reduce income taxes.
- Control During Disability. Our plans cover the management of your affairs by the people of your choosing if you become incapacitated.
- Control Distribution. Our plans let you control how your assets are managed and let you determine the allocation of those assets among your beneficiaries.
- Control Timing. Our plans let you determine how and when beneficiaries receive your assets. Should you and your spouse pass away earlier than expected, our plans let you hold your children’s shares in trust until they reach a specified age, instead of immediate access at age eighteen.
- Provide Asset Protection for your Beneficiaries. Our plans allow you the option of leaving your assets in trust for the benefit of your surviving spouse, or other beneficiaries, thereby protecting it from creditors, litigation, potential failed marriage, or other legal problems.
- Provide for Business Continuation. Our plans allow you to direct how your business will continue operations in the event of your disability or death.
- Peace of Mind. Your instructions will direct how your financial and personal affairs are to be conducted. You will select the appropriate people to stand in your shoes when you cannot speak for yourself regarding your financial matters, healthcare decisions, and guardians for minor children.
- Avoid Family Disputes. Our plans significantly reduce and helps avoid family disagreements.
- Provide Confidentiality. Some estate plans are required to become public record after your death. Our plans our structured to be completely private and confidential.
- Preserve Your Legacy. Our plans allow you to reflect and further your values, your beliefs, your opinions, and your goals during your lifetime and even after you pass away.
Annual Maintenance Program
“Estate planning is a process, and not an event.”
In addition to preparing your estate plan, the Estate & Business Law Group is your professional partner in ensuring your plan will reflect your ever-changing needs, desires, intentions and goals, and give you the confidence that your plan will work when you cannot speak for yourself. For better or worse, the only constant in your life is change. Your estate plan is a static document executed on a specific date. However, as time goes on your family changes, your finances change, your relationships change, your goals and objectives change, and the laws change. Your estate plan needs to take those changes into account.
Through our proprietary Annual Maintenance Program, the Estate & Business Law Group stands with you through these changes to ensure that your estate plan always reflects where you are today and what you want for tomorrow.
The Annual Maintenance Program includes an annual private consultation to discuss any changes affecting the goals of your estate plan, including acquiring new assets, changes in the value of your assets, changes regarding who will serve as your minor child’s guardian, and changes in beneficiaries. These changes could have drastic consequences on your taxable estate, your beneficiaries, and whether your estate is subject to probate. All of our Annual Maintenance Program clients receive the following benefits:
- An annual one-hour consultation to review your estate plan.
- A review of your estate plan for technical amendments necessitated by changes in law and tax codes.
- Verification that all assets are appropriately titled.
- Discussion of other questions or concerns regarding the smooth administration of your estate plan.
- Discussion of any personal changes (ex: marriage/divorce) including changes in estate plan goals.
- Discussion of ways to continually reduce any remaining estate tax liabilities or to protect your assets from loss.
- Reasonable telephone inquiries relating to your estate plan throughout the year.
- Re-titling of your primary residence to comply with lender requirements during a refinance of your residence.
- Updated Powers of Attorney and health care documents, as needed.
- Membership in DocuBank®, which provides immediate access to your emergency information and Health Care Directives 24 hours a day, seven days a week, anywhere in the U.S.
Advanced Estate Planning
Wealth Transfer & Taxation. At the Estate & Business Law Group, our goal is develop your legacy by achieving your goals while minimizing costs, expenses and taxes along the way. A critical part of that process is counseling our clients on the myriad of tax issues that accompany wealth transfers. Our attorneys are not only lawyers, but also Certified Public Accountants (CPAs), who understand the tax implications of your specific goals. Our attorneys counsel and advise on the planning and reporting of gift taxes, estate taxes, generation-skipping taxes and fiduciary taxes. Not only does the Estate & Business Law Group advise on the various tax obligations, but we actively seek to avoid any unnecessary taxes, as well as counsel on proactive strategies that can be used by our clients to reduce or eliminate taxes.
The Estate & Business Law Group also understands the special relationship you may have with your CPA or other tax advisors. A large portion of the tax issues our firm deals with in wealth transfer planning may go beyond the scope of what a traditional accounting firm might provide. In that regard, we take a collaborative approach with your current accountant or tax advisor to achieve maximum income and wealth transfer tax savings. If you do not have a tax preparer, we work with a large number accountants and CPAs, and would be more than happy to recommend a great one in your area.
Asset Protection. Public policy dictates that debtors should not be able to place their assets beyond the reach of creditors while retaining the beneficial use of those assets. However, there are a number of exceptions to this general rule. At the Estate & Business Law Group, we understand these exceptions and have developed strategies for our clients to protect specific assets and their legacy through the effective use of statutory asset protection laws, and through the strategic use of trusts, protecting specific personal assets from judgment creditors as well as protecting your beneficiaries inheritance form creditors.
Charitable Giving. There has developed a theory in philanthropy called “effective giving.” The foundation of effective giving is to analyze the manner in which charitable gifts are made so as to achieve the “biggest bang for your buck” for the causes you hold dear. At the Estate & Business Law Group, we delve deep into your philanthropic passions to create a charitable giving plan and legacy that minimizes taxes and costs, so your wealth will make the greatest impact. The Estate & Business Law Group counsels on charitable tax strategies, along with the use of charitable trusts, donor advised funds, private foundations and public charities.
Our clients have spent their lives building wealth with dreams of a comfortable and enjoyable retirement. Vacations and trips to see grandchildren are no doubt a part of that plan. However, the biggest threat to these plans is the unexpected cost of long-term care. The annual cost of a nursing home in the Chicago land area is about $100,000 per year. With the advances in modern medicine allowing us to live longer, combined with the increased prevalence of dementia and dementia related diseases, the risk of the need for long-term care over a number of years is constantly increasing. If a loved one must live in a nursing home for ten years, that bill is roughly $1 million.
At the Estate & Business Law Group, we encourage proactive planning well in advance of any health crisis. While we are able to help our clients in any stage of their health care plan, even if the need for a nursing home is imminent, the options in that instance are severely limited. A comprehensive long-term health care plan developed and executed well before any heath care crisis will allow you maximize the use of your assets, see that your preferences for living arrangements can be achieved, and maximize your qualification of governmental benefits such as Medicaid and VA Pension benefits. Even if you do not think you or a loved one qualifies for Medicaid benefits, we can help guide you through its complex rules and may possibly be able to preserve some of our clients’ own assets prior to Medicaid eligibility.