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Managing estate planning in Illinois

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It is never an easy task to plan for the end of life, but the process can provide a surprising amount of peace of mind for the makers of wills and their family members. The right path for estate planning can ensure a personal legacy for generations to come.

There is no substitute for professional legal assistance when you are considering how personal assets will be organized in an estate. An attorney will be familiar with the federal and Illinois state guidelines, taxes and restrictions on estate property.

Estate plans often include lifetime gifts to lower or eliminate taxes that would be applied upon death. A person can give several thousand dollars to any other person every year without a gift tax applying.

Because limits and allowances can change in federal and Illinois law every year, it is a good idea to review an estate plan every two or three years to make sure it is still current and the best available option. Your attorney will help remind you.

A will can be altered or revoked as long as the maker is legally competent. Illinois law defines this as "retaining sound mind and memory," able to make decisions based on his or her true and undamaged perception of reality.

In general, Illinois allows anyone to be included in an estate. One specific point of state law insists that a spouse of the will maker must give consent to be disinherited. It is possible for a spouse to renounce a will and receive a portion of the estate's value without this part of the process.

Source: Illinois State Bar Association, "Your Guide to Estate Planning," accessed Oct. 18, 2017

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