How to Avoid Probate?

Estate Planning Attorney Serving the Chicago Area

Providing for the distribution of your assets in a way that protects your family’s financial security involves an important series of decisions. For many people, enlisting the guidance of a knowledgeable trusts and estates attorney can be critical in planning for the future. At Gugliuzza Law, P.C., we can guide you toward a solution that is tailored to your specific needs. Chicago estate planning lawyer Marc L. Gugliuzza is a certified financial planner with substantial experience advising individuals in this area. He understands that protecting your family’s well-being requires honest advice and careful attention to detail, and he is committed to providing his services at an affordable price. As a result, we offer a variety of flat-fee packages to meet your estate planning needs.

How to Avoid Probate in Illinois

Due to the lengthy, expensive, and public nature of the probate process, many people should try to avoid the need for opening a formal probate estate. Fortunately, there are many legal ways to avoid probate, which primarily involve transforming assets into non-probate property. In essence, probate property simply consists of property that is held in the decedent’s sole name without a designated beneficiary, as well as property that is owned by the decedent as a tenant in common. Such property is subject to probate once the probate estate is opened.

Non-probate property, on the other hand, will not be subject to probate, regardless of whether the estate is probated. Non-probate property consists of all other assets. For example, property held in a joint tenancy will pass to the surviving owner upon the death of one of the tenants. In addition, assets that are subject to a beneficiary designation, such as insurance or retirement accounts, will be transferred to the named beneficiary without going through probate, as well as trust property.

Notably, having a will generally does not affect whether or not property will be subject to probate, although executing a will is certainly recommended. A “pour-over will” can be used to specify that any probate property be passed over into a separate trust and disposed of under the terms of that trust. Such instruments are usually set up as revocable living trusts. They can be useful to a broad range of people of varying financial means. Revocable living trusts have become increasingly favored for their flexibility as the primary means of disposing of a decedent’s estate. The grantor who creates and funds the trust is typically also the named trustee and beneficiary during his or her lifetime.

If necessary, a quit-claim deed may also be used to transfer real estate into the living trust. The grantor does not lose ownership by putting property in the name of the trust, and the grantor retains the power to change the terms of the trust. In addition, a successor trustee appointed by the grantor can administer the trust should the grantor become incapacitated or die. Upon the grantor’s death, the trust becomes irrevocable, and the trustee can carry out the terms of the trust privately without the need for probate.

Consult a Chicago Lawyer for Your Estate Planning Needs

If you are considering a plan to settle your estate, discussing your needs with an experienced wills and trusts attorney may be beneficial in obtaining the outcome you desire. Chicago estate planning attorney Marc L. Gugliuzza can provide solutions to help you avoid probate. We are proud to offer high-quality estate planning services at an affordable price to assist you in preparing for the future. We serve residents of communities throughout Cook, DuPage, and Kane Counties, including Wheaton and Naperville. Contact Gugliuzza Law, P.C. by phone at (708) 497-6294 or online to set up a free consultation.