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The Law Office of Terrence M. Fogarty



Why do we put off Estate Planning?

Posted on March 28, 2016 at 2:00 PM Comments comments ()

Below is a great article that outlines the many reasons we put off planning our estate and getting our affairs in order; take a look, I'll bet there are quite a few items you can relate to!


Why We Procrastinate about Estate Planning


Unfortunately, a lot of people haven’t participated in any meaningful estate planning. Most will readily admit it is something they need to do, but they keep putting it off. Why? Here are some of the more common reasons why we procrastinate about estate planning—and some information that just might get you moving.

• It’s expensive. Granted, a lot of people don’t have extra money lying around these days. But not doing anything can end up costing your loved ones much more than it would cost you to plan now. If you own assets in your name and you become incapacitated due to illness or injury, you (your assets and your care) will likely be placed in a court guardianship. This is not free. All costs (attorney fees, accounting fees, court costs, etc.) will be paid from your assets, and your family will probably have to ask the court for an allowance if they need money for living expenses.


This process does not replace probate when you die; your family will have to go through the court system again, and that means more expenses and less for your family. Your assets will be distributed according to your state’s laws, which probably won’t be what you would have wanted.


Estate planning does not have to be expensive. Find a reasonable attorney who can help you get started with some basic documents. Upgrade to a living trust later if you can’t afford it now. You may even be able to pay the attorney over time.

• I don’t own enough. Estate planning is not just for the wealthy. In fact, costs for a court guardianship and probate usually take a higher percentage from smaller estates (which can least afford it) than from larger ones. Whatever you do own, you probably would rather see it go to your loved ones than to courts and attorneys.

• I’m not old enough. Estate planning is not just for “old people.” For some reason, young people think they are going to live forever. The reality is that any of us, at any age, can become incapacitated or die due to an illness, injury, accident or random act of violence. Almost every day we read about someone whose life was cut short or changed dramatically in an instant.

• It’s confusing; I don’t know what to do. Uncertainty and indecision can be paralyzing. Attorneys are called “counselors at law” for a reason. An experienced estate planning attorney knows what other families have been through, knows what has worked well and what hasn’t. He or she can also help you understand the process and make challenging decisions easier.

Why do we need to do estate planning? To make sure our assets will go to the people we want to have them with the least amount of delay, hassle and expense; to keep our families from having to deal with the courts if we become incapacitated and when we die; to let our families know that we care about them, that we want to provide for them and protect them. Yes, we do it for those we love. But we get a huge benefit, too—and that’s peace of mind.

 (End of Article)


It's Springtime folks! What better time to do yourself and your loved ones a favor and put a Plan into action! give me a call for a free consultation today! - Terry

What Happens if you Die Without a Will in Illinois?

Posted on February 23, 2016 at 10:40 AM Comments comments ()

What happens if you die without a Will in Illinois? Probably not what you would want or expect…read below for an example of what happens under Illinois law when an individual dies without a Will.

Last Will and Testament of John M. Smith,

Drafted for Him by The State of Illinois Because He Died Without a Valid Will

I, John Smith, a resident of Illinois, do hereby accept this to be my last Will and Testament written by the State of Illinois, because I do not otherwise have a valid Will.

1. I give my wife ½ of my assets, which I own in my own name, and I give my children the remaining ½, to be divided equally among them. This shall be the case even if my children are minors and even if my wife needs more than ½ of my assets.

2. I appoint my wife as guardian of my minor children’s portion of my assets, but as a safeguard I require that she report to the probate court each year and submit an accounting of how, why, and where she spent the assets left to my children, even if she used it for their care and benefit.

3. Further, I direct my wife to procure and provide proof of a performance bond to guarantee that she exercises proper judgment in the handling, investing, and spending of my children’s funds; she will need to renew this bond each year.

4. Finally, my children shall have the right to demand and receive a complete accounting from their mother of all of her financial transactions with their money upon reaching the age of 21.

5. When my children reach the age of 21 or if they are already 21 at my time of death, they shall have the right to receive and spend their ½ portion of their inheritance from me any way they deem fit, without question or supervision.

6. If my children have creditors at the time of my death or any time thereafter, the creditors shall have a right to take my children’s inheritance to satisfy their debts.

7. Should my wife remarry and also die without a Will, her second husband shall be entitled to receive ½ of any assets my wife owns in her own name, including anything she previously inherited from me, unless she is very strict about keeping them separate.

8. Should my children need some of that money for their support, my wife’s second husband shall not be required to spend any of his inheritance from my wife for their benefit. He shall have the sole right to decide who receives this money upon his own death, cutting my children out completely.

9. If, at the time of my death, either my children or my wife are receiving governmental benefits (such as Medicaid) because they are disabled, their inheritance from me shall go directly to the government as reimbursement. If they should later become disabled, they will need to spend of the inheritance before qualifying for such benefits.

10. Should my wife die before me or at the same time as me and we have minor children, I do not wish to designate a guardian for my children whom I believe will give them the proper care and supervision.

11. Instead, I direct my friends and relatives to get together and decide who is best suited to raise my children.

12. If they are unable to come to agreement, I direct the Probate Court to decide who shall be appointed guardian. The court may appoint anyone it wishes, even a total stranger.

13. Should Probate of my estate be necessary, I do not wish to appoint the person who I believe would be best suited and willing to serve as executor my estate.

14. Once an Executor has been selected and appointed by the Probate Court, I direct that the Executor shall post a bond in the amount of twice the value of my personal property, and that the Executor personally pay the surety on that bond, which generally costs between 1-2% of the bond.

IN WITNESS WHEREOF, I have set my hand and seal to this, my Last Will and Testament, consisting of two (2) typewritten pages, this ____ day of _____________, 20___.



John M. Smith