160 S. Municipal Dr. Suite 100, Sugar Grove, IL 60554

Protecting Your Assets in Illinois

Posted on in Estate Planning

protecting assets, living trust, Sugar Grove estate planning lawyerTestamentary documents are among the most important papers you will ever sign. It is very important to partner with an experienced estate planning attorney who can learn who you are and will understand your family’s unique situation. A solid estate plan can make your wishes clear, help ensure that those wishes are effectively carried out, and help your heirs avoid costly legal disputes.

What is a Will?

Simply put, a will is better than nothing. This basic estate planning document may do little more than parrot the state’s intestacy laws–the statutes that determine what happens to dependents and property if a person dies without a will. An executor oversees the mechanical distribution of assets upon the testator’s death. There is little or no discretion or judgment involved.

A will is an excellent tool for some families, particularly young couples with few assets and no children. As we age, however, a more comprehensive estate plan is very often needed.

What is a Revocable Living Trust?

A Revocable Living Trust (or RLT) has four basic components. First, there are the terms (1). The settlor–person who makes the trust–makes the rules within a certain legal framework. The trust is controlled by a trustee (2). Very often, in a RLT, the settlor and trustee are the same person.

Trustees have a fiduciary duty to the beneficiaries (3), or persons who are to inherit. The trustees must manage the estate according to the beneficiaries’ best interests. That management usually covers a finite time period, such as until the beneficiaries reach an age where they can properly manage the assets you want to give to them. A trust must also contain a corpus (4)–money or property. Until the trust is actually funded, it is not a legally binding document.

Is a Revocable Living Trust Better Than a Will?

There are many inherent advantages to a RLT over a will. Some recent legislative changes have made these advantages even more pronounced:

  • Better Planning: Instead of a single executor, a RLT can have up to three different advisors on a trust management team. This system helps ease the burden of decision-making and allows for better execution. Successor Trustees can help manage your assets if you become incapacitated, helping to avoid guardianship.
  • Cost Savings: We have found that the cost of probating a Will is generally more than double the cost of creating a RLT.
  • Revocable: The corpus of a RLT can be added to or subtracted from at any time, as long as the settlor is alive. To change the terms of a will, there must be another legal document.
  • Seamless: With a Will, an executor must be appointed by a court before the executor can take control of your assets. With a RTL, the Successor Trustee steps right into the shoes of the original Trustee, and can have immediate access to assets at a time when access is needed most.

Talk to an experienced estate planning attorney in Kane County today about setting up a Revocable Living Trust. At Law Office of James F. White, P.C., the initial consultation is free. We assist clients not only in Kane County, but throughout the western suburbs of Chicago.


160 S. Municipal Dr. Suite 100, Sugar Grove, IL 60554

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