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estate planning, family estate planning, drafting a will, DuPage County estate planning attorneys, family willEstate planning is not the most glamorous area of law. Many people do not want to think about passing away; it can be a difficult topic to discuss with one’s family. However, estate planning is extremely important and can save you or your loved ones an insurmountable amount of troubles when tragedy strikes.

Estate planning is often regarded as something the “rich” do but is not necessary for common people. This could not be further from the truth. Estate planning can determine who takes possession of your property after you pass, however much or little property you may have. It can also prevent a familial fight should tragedy strike, and the loss of a loved one happens seemingly out of nowhere.

What Makes Estate Planning So Important?

estate planning divorceMost people that have written an estate plan or considered the task assume that upon divorce, any part of that plan that designated money or property to the now-ex-spouse would no longer be in effect. While that is the case with some common estate plan components, it is not always true. It is essential that anyone considering or undergoing a divorce take a look back at any estate planning documents and make some necessary changes.

Changing Beneficiaries of Estate Planning Documents

Many documents in an estate plan list certain beneficiaries designated to take on a certain power or to receive certain assets at a particular time. For example, a trust will have a designated trustee, a will will have designated beneficiaries set to receive assets, a will will name a designated executor, and powers of attorneys will name specific agents to act on behalf of the documents’ creator. In Illinois, a dissolution of marriage will automatically revoke any provisions in a will, trust, or power of attorney that pertain to an ex-spouse. A party pursuing a divorce will not need to worry about changing these particular estate plan pieces after a divorce to ensure that the ex-spouse will not benefit from any prior designations.

One piece of your estate plan that the court will specifically address is your life insurance policy. Most Illinois family law courts will consider the issue of life insurance policies during a divorce. The final divorce decree will state whether any party is required to maintain any life insurance policy for the benefit of the other spouse. If the divorce decree does not require a person to keep his or her ex-spouse on the life insurance policy, it will be very important to work with the insurance company to remove this person as the beneficiary. The designation will not be automatically terminated upon divorce, so the party with the policy must actively take steps to protect him or herself.  


estate planning, estate plan, lawyer, attorney, family lawyer, family law attorneyWhether you are a parent or an adult child interested in beginning a conversation about getting affairs in order, the prospect of discussing your loved one’s death can be intimidating. However, once the participants get over the initial discomfort, having an open discussion about estate planning matters can prove highly beneficial. Here are some tips to open the lines of communication.

Having a Conversation

It is important to have honest yet sensitive communication among close family regarding estate planning. Doing so will help make sure that expectations and feelings about certain responsibilities or obligations designated by the documents are shared with one another.


estate planning documents, update your will, divorce, lawyer, attorney, family lifeEnding your marriage also changes many other aspects of life. Not only does one’s social life change, but divorce can cause a number of legal effects on your life as well. After divorce, one key issue to consider is changing your estate planning documents to reflect your new status your new estate planning wishes. Following is a good framework for this estate planning issue, and what can be done to make sure that your wishes are carried out after a divorce.

Automatic Changes

While you will need to make some specific changes to your documents after divorce, some changes are automatic. For example, Illinois law provides that once you are divorced (have a final decree of divorce), any provisions in your will providing for an ex-spouse will be revoked automatically. This addresses one possible outcome, but does not serve to protect the testator from the other implications that can arise if a will is left unchanged after a divorce.


illinois heroin defense attorneyWills and other estate planning documents can provide for the distribution of assets and the assignment of personal property to loved ones after death. Beyond that, these documents can be as personal and specific as the testator wishes. Many people may not realize the extent of the terms they can include in their will. Often times, as demonstrated by a recent article regarding a celebrity’s will, the thoughts and feelings expressed in a will are particularly trustworthy, as the testator knows they need not be concerned with repercussions at the time their wishes are made known.

Phillip Seymour Hoffman’s Feelings about Hollywood in His Will

The recent death of actor Phillip Seymour Hoffman has been present in the news since he died of an apparent drug overdose in the beginning of February of 2014. Stories covered a number of topics, ranging from his starring roles to the overarching problem of heroin addiction in the United States. Now, a media outlet is releasing a portion of his will relating to the rearing of his children.

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