Estate Planning and Probate Attorneys in Central Illinois
Regardless of your financial situation, the estate planning and probate attorneys of Quinn Johnston can assist you in preparing a will, trust, or durable power of attorney to help you to prepare for your and your family’s future. In addition, our attorneys counsel and assist clients with estate and trust administration matters. Our goal is to provide competent and efficient legal services.
If a person dies without a valid will in Illinois, that person’s property will be distributed to the person’s closest living relatives according to the intestacy laws in the Probate Act. Having a properly prepared and executed will is the best way to ensure that your property is distributed according to your wishes following your death. In a will, you name your beneficiaries, which would be the persons and organizations to whom you leave your property. Your will also names an executor, the person who will oversee your estate and follow your wishes in your will.
Wills are especially important for parents with minor children. In your will, you may nominate personal guardians to care for your minor children in the event that you die while they’re still young. You may also choose to name a trustee to manage property for your children while they are still minors.
You might have a will that you wrote years ago, when your situation was considerably different than it is today. Quinn Johnston’s attorneys can review that will with you and help you prepare a new will to better fit your current needs.
A trust is a legal agreement that governs the administration of property for a beneficiary. The property is managed by the trustee for the benefit of beneficiaries. As explained below, it is common for the grantor, the trustee and the beneficiary to be the same person initially under a trust agreement.
People create trusts for a variety of reasons. Trusts are often created for estate tax planning purposes. A trust may be created to provide for young children in the event of their parents’ deaths. These trusts may be created while the children or still alive, or the parents’ executors may be directed by the parents wills’ to create a trust for the children. Another reason to create a trust is to avoid the probate process.
Many other different kinds of trusts are available depending on the individual’s needs. Those trusts include irrevocable life insurance trusts, grantor retained annuity trusts, charitable trusts, defective grantor trusts, just to name a few. The estate planning attorneys at Quinn Johnston can help you determine if a trust can meet your estate planning needs.
An Illinois statutory living wills provides your intentions as to life supporting medical treatment in the event you have a terminal condition that cannot be cured and you are unable to communicate with your doctors and family. Having a living will can make difficult end of life decisions easier on your family. The estate planning attorneys at Quinn Johnston can explain to you when a living will applies and how a living will is different from a DNR (Do Not Resuscitate Order). We can also provide you with instructions on who should be notified of your living will to help ensure your wishes are followed.
Health Care and Property Powers of Attorney
The Illinois Power of Attorney Act (755 ILCS 45) allows you to sign a statutory durable power of attorney that grants your designated agent broad powers to make health care decisions for you. These decisions include the power to require, consent to, or withdraw treatment for any physical or mental condition. Your power of attorney may also be able to admit you to or discharge you from a hospital, home or other institution. You may choose to limit the amount of time a Power of Attorney will be in effect. The attorneys at Quinn Johnston can help you better understand the laws governing agents’ actions and the duties your agent will owe to you. We can also provide you with instructions on who should be notified of your Power of Attorney to help ensure your wishes are followed.
Probate (Estate Administration)
After someone dies, Illinois law sometimes requires that his or her estate go through probate, a court-supervised legal procedure. Probate ensures that the deceased person’s debts and taxes are paid and clarifies who will inherit the remainder of the deceased’s property. The court will verify that the deceased person’s will is valid, and it will see that the estate’s executor receives letters of office, which is the legal authority to carry out the instructions of the will. If a person dies intestate (without a will), the court will appoint an administrator and will grant him or her letters of administration. The executor or administrator will see that the deceased person’s assets are identified, inventories and appraised. He or she will then pay debts and taxes and distribute property according to the deceased person’s will or per statute.
If you are an executor, administrator or beneficiary of an estate, Quinn Johnston’s attorneys can help you navigate the probate process. Our attorneys can provide education and guidance to help ensure that the estate is being administered fairly, legally and according to the decedent’s wishes. We can help prepare tax documents, and we can consult with accountants and other financial experts regarding tax-effective contributions. We can also help assert claims against others for debts owed to the estate, and we can help notify creditors of estate and help defend the estate against invalid claims.
Executors often need legal advice and representation if a will is contested. In Illinois, a spouse may renounce a will. If a spouse renounces a will, he or she receives half of the estate if the decedent has no children and received a third of the estate if the decedent does have children. Spouses are also entitled to a minimum of $20,000 of the estate. Quinn Johnston’s Peoria-based attorneys are here to help executors and beneficiaries dealing with renounced and contested wills.
About Quinn Johnston
Quinn Johnston was featured by Fortune Legal Marketplace as a 2013 Top Ranked Law Firm based on Martindale-Hubbell AV® Preeminent ratings for ethical standards and legal ability. Several of our attorneys have also been named as Leading Lawyers by their peers in the Leading Lawyers Network. We represent clients throughout Central Illinois, including in Peoria, Pekin, Morton, East Peoria, Springfield, Bloomington-Normal, Galesburg, Quincy, Decatur, Lincoln and their surrounding areas. Our experienced litigators strongly defend clients while maintaining a high level of professionalism and ethical standards.