Category Archives: Estate Planning Basics

DO “DINKS” NEED ESTATE PLANNING?


DINKs

We often hear the from our married clients who have double income and no kids: “We do not have any kids so we only need simple estate planning, if we need it at all.” This leads to the question: DO “DINKs” (Double Income, No Kids) Even Need Estate Planning? 

The answer is YES! DINKs need at least as much estate planning as anyone else. It is especially important for a couple with no children to carefully choose the people who will make healthcare and financial decisions for them if they are disabled. We find that the worst people step up to the plate to “help out” in the absence of preset direction from YOU. At the very least, powers of attorney and various contingency planning, whether via wills or trusts, are called for.  When our clients think about their family members who might volunteer for the job of handling money for them, they often shudder at the thought. Especially as they get older, the thought of being taken advantage of looms in the horizon.

Why leave it to chance? TOMORROW IS RIGHT AROUND THE CORNER – PLAN TODAY

In our practice, we treat DINKs as a type of blended family when giving them estate planning advice. DINKs are similar to second marriage situations, where there may be “his,” “her,” or “their” children. Assuming the DINK couple want to primarily benefit each other during their joint lifetimes, then any analysis leads to contingency planning. This is because if either of them wants money to ultimately go to his or her family, friends or charities, the choice is either cashing out those contingent beneficiaries upon the death of the first-to-die or careful trust language protecting the rights of the intended secondary heirs of the first-to die spouse during the lifetime of the surviving spouse.  Leaving everything outright to the survivor with the expectation that he or she will not change the flow of assets to the first-to-die person’s preferred set of ultimate beneficiaries very often results in those people or charities getting nothing.

Everyone needs planning, including DINKs! CONTACT US TODAY FOR A FREE ESTATE PLANNING CONSULTATION

     eric_matlin                         jkolo
Eric G. Matlin, Esq.           Julie A. Kolodziej, Esq.

A blog article by Eric G. Matlin and Julie A. Kolodziej.  Eric and Julie are Principals at Matlin Law Group, P.C.   Please feel free to contact Eric Matlin  or Julie Kolodziej at Matlin Law Group, P.C. regarding this or any other matter.  Phone number 1-847-770-6600.  Our attorneys have the experience to guide you through your estate planning needs.

Disclaimer – The content of this article is not intended to be legal advice and does not create an attorney client relationship with the person reading it.

DO YOU KNOW WHO YOUR HEALTHCARE AGENT SHOULD BE? TAKE THIS QUIZ TO FIND OUT.


Quiz letters

QUIZ for HOW TO PICK A HEALTH CARE AGENT OR PROXY

Sophie was laying in her bed feeling feverish and a little bit lost.  She was wondering how she was going to pull herself out of bed to get to the health clinic.  She longed for the times when her mom would take her to the doctor, but mom was not there and so Sophie would have to fend for herself.

For most of us, as children, our parents were there to help us when we were sick.  Wasn’t that chicken noodle soup your mom made you when you had a cold the best?  But as adults, we are often left to fend for ourselves when we are sick. For the typical house cold or flu, we are able to manage.  But what if we come down with a health condition that effects our ability to make decisions for ourselves?  Who makes decisions for us in that scenario?

Experience dictates that YOU are the best judge of who is the right candidate to act for you to make health decisions if you cannot.  If you leave the decision about who will act to chance, it is possible that your family may disagree about who should act and what health decisions should be made on your behalf.

  • 82% of people say it is important to put their wishes regarding health decisions in writing. 
  • 23% have actually done it. (California HealthCare Foundation,  2012) 

Think about who in your life shares your philosophy about major health decisions.  Would you want to be put on a ventilator? A stomach tube?  Do you want your life prolonged or are you a “pull the plug” type?  Should your 20 year old daughter make these decisions for you?  Your 80 year old mother? These are tough decisions and they love you.  Maybe your daughter would want to do this for you.   It is important to select a healthcare agent and to execute a legal document (called a power of attorney for Healthcare in Illinois) to legally select your chosen healthcare agent and to ensure that your philosophy is carried out.

CLICK HERE for a link to the QUIZ  for HOW TO PICK A HEALTH CARE AGENT OR PROXY from the American Bar Association (ABA) Commission for Law and Aging Consumer’s Tool Kit for Health Care  Advance Planning.

Tomorrow is right around the corner. Plan today. 


Julie A. Kolodziej, Esq.

jkolo   A blog article by Julie A. Kolodziej ©2017. Julie is a Principal at Matlin Law Group, P.C. Please feel free to contact Julie Kolodziej regarding this or any other matter. Phone number 1-847-770-6600.

Disclaimer – The content of this article is not intended to be legal advice and does not create an attorney client relationship with the person reading it.

Should You Use A “Do-It-Yourself” Estate Planning Service?


QUESTION: Should You Use A “Do-It-Yourself” Estate Planning Service? Many people ask whether it is a good idea to use a DIY estate planning service to create an estate plan (Wills, Trusts, Powers of Attorney). As attorneys, we might seem biased when answering this question. However, the American Bar Association, as a part of its discussion in Do It Yourself Estate Planning, gave the following example, which is compelling:

“A New Jersey resident opted to purchase — surely at a nominal cost — a Will form kit. He carefully handwrote his intended dispositions into the form document. He did not have it properly witnessed. Undoubtedly believing he had completed his “simple Will” properly, he signed it and then apparently committed suicide. His heirs, however, eventually paid for his efforts. In the ensuing lawsuit (Matter of Will of Feree), a New Jersey trial court struggled to find a way to interpret and give effect to his handwritten additions to the form. Under New Jersey probate law, the language on the pre-printed form was not admissible because the Will was not properly signed by Mr. Feree (most states require a Will to be signed in the presence of two witnesses, a few even require three witnesses). The Court’s effort to salvage Mr. Feree’s work — and the ensuing trip to the New Jersey appellate court — almost certainly cost the family tens of thousands of dollars or more. At least Mr. Feree never saw that enormous expenditure — he passed away believing he had saved money.”

http://www.americanbar.org/groups/real_property_trust_estate/resources/estate_planning/diy_estate_planning.html

ANSWER: If you want you make sure your intent is carried out with as little cost as possible, contact an experienced estate planning attorney to implement an estate plan tailored to your needs and concerns.

Tomorrow is right around the corner. Plan today. CONTACT US TODAY FOR A FREE ESTATE PLAN CONSULTATION


Julie A. Kolodziej, Esq.

jkolo   A blog article by Julie A. Kolodziej ©2017. Julie is a Principal at Matlin Law Group, P.C. Please feel free to contact Julie Kolodziej regarding this or any other matter. Phone number 1-847-770-6600.

Disclaimer – The content of this article is not intended to be legal advice and does not create an attorney client relationship with the person reading it.

Living Without a Will


A recent Gallup Poll has indicated that at least 56% of U.S. citizens do not have a will in place. Taking a closer look at the numbers, certain trends emerge. Older people are more likely to have a will, as are the more affluent and those with advanced degrees. This is not surprising, as there is a common misconception that only the wealthy need estate plans. However, every U.S. adult should have some sort of plan in place – at the very minimum a will and powers of attorney for healthcare and property (although for many, a trust may be a more appropriate option).

A will offers a number of necessary advantages over the State’s default designation (known as the laws of intestacy), including the ability to appoint guardians of minor children, the ability to choose an Executor of an estate, and the ability to direct where (and to whom) assets shall be distributed upon death. These designations are often very personal, and most people when pressed have some sort of preference that may or may not align with the State’s default law. If you are one of the many people without any estate planning, now is a good time to speak with an attorney to put a plan in place. Contact Matlin Law Group, P.C. for a free initial estate planning consultation a 1-847-770-6600.

Pen Paper Blue Shirt

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[1] http://www.gallup.com/poll/191651/majority-not.aspx


Michael A. Goldberg

michael_goldberg A blog article by Michael A. Goldberg ©2017. Michael is an Attorney at Matlin Law Group, P.C. Please feel free to contact Michael Goldberg regarding this or any other matter. Phone number 1-847-770-6600.

Disclaimer – The content of this article is not intended to be legal advice and does not create an attorney client relationship with the person reading it.

Spring Cleaning – Getting Your Documents Organized for Your Estate plan


spring-cleaning

It is officially spring!  When many of us awaken from our long winter hibernation just in time for annual spring cleaning, the perfect opportunity arrives to whip our homes and lives into shape.

  Ideally, estate planning is the perfect catalyst for organization. The more you know about what you own, the more complete your estate plan will be. Organizing your paperwork and your mind may seem like a daunting task, but the resulting relief and satisfaction are worthwhile from not only a practical but a psychological and emotional standpoint.

An aversion to lawyers and arcane legal documents, or even a case of papyrophobia may leave you paralyzed. Perhaps a serious paperectomy is in order. If you cannot muster the organizational energy to sort your piles of paper, consider hiring someone or seeking the help of a professional, friend or relative. You will find it worth the effort and expense. Do not wait for a wake-up call – you may not get one.

If the mere thought of planning your estate and all of the work entailed triggers panic, this questionnaire may get you on the right track. If such a detailed questionnaire is itself a major obstacle and you are meeting with a lawyer for the first time, ask the lawyer what s/he needs for a get-acquainted meeting. You may find that you can accomplish a lot with minimal advance preparation.

Matlin & Associate, P.C. offers a free estate planning consultation. This consultation is a great opportunity for you to ask one of our attorneys what documents you may want to get organized. Please feel free to give us a call at 1-847-770-6600.

 

Top 12 Reasons People Delay Estate Planning


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January is as good a time as any to contemplate your goals for the new year and begin to fulfill new (or old unfulfilled) resolutions. Like doing estate planning. If you did your planning years ago, your goal might be to tune it up, making sure that when it is actually needed, it benefits you and your family as optimally as possible. Your estate plan may be stale if your personal or financial circumstances have changed, including the birth, death or increasing disability of a family member; marriage or divorce; change in net worth or assets; or simply the passage of time.

For sure, estate tax laws changed significantly January 1, 2013. State estate taxes can now be as important as federal estate taxes and capital gains considerations may trump both.

A  properly planned estate will give you peace of mind that your assets go where you desire, with the right people in charge, and keep your family out of court.

If this month turns into the next and so on without completing your estate plan, maybe you fall into one of my top-twelve reasons why people delay estate planning. Do any resonate with you?

12. Most people don’t like to think about death or money. Wills and trusts force you to confront mortality and money, two issues that can be difficult to face. This is particularly true if you are healthy and don’t feel you have much money.

11. Estate planning is something most people are unfamiliar with or feel uncomfortable about. Because you don’t know much about estate-planning documents, you may experience anxiety or struggle with feelings of inadequacy when confronted with the subject. You know how to be a good plumber or schoolteacher or police officer or how to run a restaurant, but you don’t know estate planning.

10. There’s no hard-and-fast deadline. Many people can’t accomplish anything until a deadline looms. But when it comes to wills and trusts, the crucial and final deadline often comes without warning.

9. It’s not much fun. True, but life isn’t always fun, especially if you are an adult. If you need fun, plan a party to celebrate finishing your estate plan.

8. People hate lawyers. But not all people hate all lawyers; you can find one you can relate to.

7. People are afraid of massive amounts of paper. If you understand the paperwork, it becomes less intimidating. Be prepared to ask questions about anything you don’t understand.

6. You won’t live to see the largest benefits of your estate plan. The main beneficiaries will be your heirs. It can be difficult to devote yourself to this task until you accept your family’s priorities as your own.

5. It might mean making decisions that could arouse negative feelings in loved ones. Maybe you’re concerned your family will be angry when they learn the details of your estate plan.

4. The size of the job can be daunting. Estate planning can be, but isn’t necessarily, a big, time-consuming task. The perceived enormity of the task can prevent some people from even starting the job.

3. Not doing your estate planning can be a form of passive-aggressive behavior. If you’re not happy with your future heirs, failing to complete necessary wills or trusts can be a subconscious way to punish them.

2. Some people just like to live for the moment. Some procrastinators simply can’t—or won’t—force themselves to pass up short-term pleasure and sit down to complete their estate planning, even if at some level they understand that doing so will provide them with far greater long-term satisfaction.

1. Guilt feeds upon itself. The real number one excuse for not doing an estate plan, when you know you need one, is the wall built from guilt about not doing estate planning, adding to any depression you might have about procrastination in other areas of your life and leading, ironically, to further delay. If you can’t move from that state, a psychologist or counselor with experience working with procrastinators might help you.

All of these reasons to delay are perfectly understandable—but that doesn’t make them any less harmful. Fortunately, you can benefit by simply recognizing them. Once you do that you realize that doing nothing can make your worst fears come true you can weigh the very real dangers of delay against the fear of thinking about money or mortality. You might discover that doing your estate plan is easier–not only in the long-term, which is obvious, but also in the short-term — since the whole subject can then be put behind you.

We offer a free initial estate planning consultation to help you make the first step in completing your planning goal this year.

Eric Matlin

Eric G. Matlin

A blog article by Eric G. Matlin ©2014. Eric is an Attorney and President of Matlin & Associates, P.C. Please feel free to contact Eric Matlin regarding this or any other matter. Phone number 1-847-770-6600

Disclaimer – The content of this article is not intended to be legal advice and does not create an attorney client relationship with the person reading it

Eric G. Matlin, author of Penguin Group Publishing’s 2004 “The Procrastinator’s Guide to Wills and Estate Planning” has been writing about procrastination now for 10 years and is eager to change direction. Look for Eric’s new book “Not Dead Yet,” featuring a graphic novel book-within-a-book, to be published later this year.

Are You Covering Your Children’s Health Insurance Costs Without Any Access to Their Medical Information?


The Affordable Care Act requires plans that offer dependent coverage to make the dependent coverage available until the adult child reaches the age of 26.  While many parents are covering the costs of their adult children until the age of 26, many of these parents are unaware that they have no access to that adult child’s medical records and/or no one has been appointed agent under power of attorney for healthcare for the adult child.

College_Girl_Sick_Small

Imagine: Your daughter is in college, a thousand miles away. You pray that she is safe in her new environment, but if she is hurt you can find yourself in a nightmare world. You get a call from a hospital: “She’s here, in stable condition.”

You ask, “What happened? What’s happening?”

The worker at the other end of the phone may feel legally restricted in what information she can give you without conflicting with HIPAA regulations, so you receive no clear response and are denied basic information. She believes that she is honoring your daughter’s federal right to privacy under HIPAA and minimizing her potential liability; but her “take it up with our legal department” response leaves you in a lurch.

HIPAA (Health Information Portability and Accountability Act) authorizations and Powers of Attorney for Health Care (POAHC) are examples of estate-planning tools that are valuable to people of all ages and means. Every competent person age 18 and over should have them.  HIPAA authorizations allow access to your adult child’s health information to whomever your adult child chooses.

POAHCs provide for the appointment of an agent who can make the personal and medical decisions on your behalf of your adult child, should they become incapacitated. It is a type of “advance directive” that helps to avoid a guardianship over their person, keeping your family out of court, and provides a forum for your adult child to articulate end-of-life philosophies, addresses organ donation issues and disposition of remains.

Think of a HIPAA Authorization as your loved one’s answer to the voice at the medical emergency end of the phone saying, “Sorry, I’m not authorized to discuss her condition with you — if you have a problem with this, take it up with our lawyers.” The penalties for health workers (physicians, nurses, hospital administrators and others) who violate complex HIPAA privacy rules can include fines and jail time.

If your adult child is in the area over the winter break, please have them contact our office to schedule an appointment to execute their health care power of attorney and HIPAA authorization.  We are running a special from December 20-January 20 for $100.00 to complete this work.

eric_matlin     johannah_hebl
Eric G. Matlin      Johannah K. Hebl

A blog article by Eric G. Matlin and Johannah K. Hebl.  Eric and Johannah are Attorneys at Matlin & Associates, P.C.   Please feel free to contact Eric Matlin or Johannah Hebl at Matlin & Associates, P.C. regarding this or any other matter.  Phone number 1-847-770-6600.  Our attorneys have the experience to guide you through your estate planning needs.

Disclaimer – The content of this article is not intended to be legal advice and does not create an attorney client relationship with the person reading it.