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The Basics Of Estate Planning: Wills, Trusts And Probate

Estate planning provides multiple generations of a family with a blueprint for how to share assets and property across more than one lifetime. Although each individual will have unique circumstances around which to base their plan, the basic building blocks of a solid estate plan are remarkably similar for many people.

Zimmerman & Walsh, LLP, assists clients in Rockford and surrounding areas in northern Illinois and southern Wisconsin in preparing estate plans using wills and trusts. We also advise families of the best strategies for minimizing probate exposure.

What A Will Can Do For Your Family

A will documents how you want your assets and property to be distributed after your death. If you have minor children, you can also name a legal guardian for them in your will. The state of Illinois’ probate process determines if a will is valid and if the distribution of property aligns with the deceased person’s wishes.

The Role Of Trusts In Estate Planning

Forming a legal trust is often recommended in conjunction with writing a will for several significant reasons, including that trusts can take effect immediately, and the terms of a trust are private. Assets and property placed into a trust are allowed to bypass probate.

There are several types of trusts. Here are a few of the most common trusts used in estate planning:

  • The property placed in revocable or “living trusts” can be changed during the life of the creator.
  • Irrevocable trusts, once formed, cannot be changed — items placed in the trust must remain in the trust.
  • Special needs trusts are set up to provide support for disabled loved ones who also receive income-sensitive government benefits.

How To Minimize Probate For A Loved One’s Estate

As noted earlier, the probate process can be lengthy and cumbersome. Our probate attorneys can help you take the steps necessary to reduce the number of assets that must go through probate, so your heirs may receive the items you intended for them more quickly and easily.

Provide Your Family’s Future With A Firm Foundation

Zimmerman & Walsh, LLP‘s attorneys provide you with the service you deserve. We can help you with estate planning, preparing wills and trusts, answering elder law questions and more. Schedule an appointment by calling 815-981-4841 or using our online contact form.