Estate Planning

Chicago Estate Planning Attorneys

Protecting Your Future and Legacy

Everyone needs a plan for what will happen to their estates once they are gone. Effective estate planning allows you to safeguard what is most important and minimize the odds of future conflict.

Our Chicago estate planning lawyers at Regas, Frezados & Dallas LLP can help you protect your loved ones and legacy. We can also assist individuals and families with resolving probate and trust administration disputes.

Our team has over 100 years of combined legal experience and an extensive familiarity with estate planning tools and legal processes that we can leverage to benefit your case.

Explore your estate planning options with our accomplished team today. Call our estate planning attorneys in Chicago at (312) 702-1809 or contact us online to get started.

Building and Updating Estate Plans

Depending on the size of your estate, creating an estate plan can be a complex process. A robust estate plan will ensure your final wishes are honored and protect your assets from disputes and other consequences, including estate taxes.

Our Chicago estate planning attorneys can help you implement:

Wills

A last will and testament allows you to:

  • Name beneficiaries to your assets
  • A guardian for any minor children
  • And a personal representative responsible for closing your estate with the state government

Contents of a will are a matter of public record, and any assets named in one are subject to probate, meaning they can become entangled in conflict and even be seized by creditors. Trusts are often a more efficient means of leaving your property to heirs, but a will is still an important document that we can help you draft and formalize.

Trusts

Trusts come in many shapes and forms, but all involve the sheltering of assets through a trustee, a third party that oversees the management of the trust. Revocable trusts can be modified or canceled throughout your lifetime.

Irrevocable trusts cannot be changed but can be used to safeguard assets from creditors. Unlike wills, trusts are private, and assets placed in them are not subject to probate. They also allow for a great deal of flexibility and customization. We can review your estate plan and identify trust strategies that meet your objectives.

Advanced Healthcare Directives

Advanced healthcare directives can help address situations where you are incapacitated and unable to advocate for the types of medical care you wish to receive.

By establishing advanced healthcare directives, you can:

  • Specify whether you wish to be resuscitated
  • Whether you are comfortable with emergency and exploratory surgery
  • Preferences for end-of-life care
  • And more

We can assist you with drafting clear and enforceable instructions for your advanced healthcare directives.

Powers of Attorney

By naming a power of attorney, you designate someone to act on your behalf. You define the scope of the legal authority you bestow on your power of attorney. Many will designate a power of attorney to complete business transactions on their behalf, for example.

“Springing” powers of attorney can also be implemented to act on your behalf in a fuller capacity should you become incapacitated or otherwise unable to communicate. We can assist in selecting a power of attorney and drafting the appropriate documentation that outlines their legal abilities.

Business Succession Plans

If you own or run a business, you will need to consider what will happen to your organization once you are gone or if you were to suddenly become unavailable. By developing a business succession plan, you can select a successor and implement legal and structural mechanisms that facilitate a smooth transition.

An ideal succession plan will minimize disruptions and maintain continuity of operations. Our team can work with you to identify potential successors and advise how best to incorporate your long-term goals into your succession plan.

Probate and Trust Litigation

When someone passes away, their estate must be settled in the eyes of the law. This involves going through a probate process, where the deceased’s heirs are notified, assets are inventoried, and remaining debts are tabulated and paid.

Probate is notoriously rife with conflict, and many common disputes will require litigation to resolve. Many issues center on the authenticity of the deceased’s last will and testament. In order to be valid and enforceable, the document must have been signed by the testator in the presence of at least 2 witnesses. The testator must also have been mentally competent at the time of signing and not be subject to any undue influence.

All heirs of a deceased individual are formally notified as part of the probate process. They are also informed of the will’s contents, which can sometimes be controversial and have surprising omissions. Some family members may look to contest the legitimacy of the will when they are excluded or are otherwise frustrated about the testator’s decisions.

Probate cannot proceed – and the deceased’s final instructions cannot be honored – until will contests are resolved. Our Chicago estate planning lawyers can assist you with each stage of the will contest process and will fight to ensure your and your loved ones’ interests are protected.

Trusts are not generally subject to probate but can also experience conflicts requiring legal action. Each trust is overseen and managed by a trustee that has fiduciary duties to the trustor and the beneficiaries of the trust. If a trustee fails to uphold these responsibilities, they can be sued, removed, and held accountable for any financial losses.

Our team at Regas, Frezados & Dallas LLP can assist you with many trust-related conflicts, including:

  • Accounting Discrepancies. Trustees must maintain detailed financial records of all elements of the trust. They are required by law to submit an annual report that details any and all transactions as well as the current state of the trust. We can assist individuals and families who believe a trust’s accounting is inaccurate or inadequate.
  • Property Issues. Many types of trusts give trustees a fair amount of discretion in making investments and managing the trust’s contents. However, disputes can arise when a trustee appears to be making poor decisions that endanger the health of the trust. They can also result from situations where a trustee fails to distribute assets in accordance with the trustor’s written instructions. Our firm can explore litigation options for any situation where a trustee is failing to act appropriately.
  • Trust Contests. Living trusts are typically managed by the trustor instead of a third party. When the trustor passes away or becomes incapacitated, a named successor trustee will assume control of the trust and its contents. The successor trustee, beneficiaries of the trust, and any other heirs of the trustor will have the opportunity to review the trust’s instructions. If the trust instructions appear to be fraudulent, the result of undue influence, or unlawful, a trust contest may be pursued to address and resolve the issue. We can evaluate these situations and represent you in trust contests.
  • Trust Ambiguities. Trusts are built on the instructions and intentions of the trustor. When an instruction is ambiguous, interested parties will likely advocate for favorable and potentially conflicting interpretations, especially if a tremendous amount of assets is on the line. Our team can assess trust language ambiguities and work to resolve any conflicts as efficiently as possible.

We are ready to help you navigate your probate or trust dispute. Contact our Chicago estate planning lawyers online or call (312) 702-1809 today.

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