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Frequently Asked Questions

How much do you charge for your estate planning services?

Many estate planning attorneys in Chicago and the surrounding suburbs charge an hourly rate for their services. This allows them to charge you for the time spent meeting with you, learning about your situation and drafting the various documents that will be included in your estate plan. At Hess Law Firm, LLC, you will be charged a reasonable flat fee for most estate planning services. This allows Mr. Hess to spend as much time as he needs conferring with you and getting to know you, your family and your particular situation without there being questions about whether certain work is necessary or simply aimed toward inflating a bill.

Can't I just prepare my own Will online or with a kit from a bookstore?

Yes, you are legally permitted to prepare your own Will. However, a Will, like all estate planning documents, must be drafted and executed in such a manner that it comports with Illinois law. Furthermore, depending on your situation, estate and gift tax consideration may render preparing just a Will inappropriate and inadvisable. A qualified attorney can evaluate your situation, discuss your goals with you and draft an estate plan that you can be sure complies with the law and achieves what you want. Furthermore, if you retain Hess Law Firm to prepare your estate plan, you will be kept up to date on changes in the law so that you can determine whether you need to update your estate plan.

Does having a Will avoid the probate process?

No. Wills must be filed with the court and admitted to probate, but having a Will streamlines the administration of your estate and reduces costs significantly. A Will drafted by a competent attorney can help you avoid certain costs, such as the cost of a surety bond which normally must be purchased by law. A Will also enables your loved ones to avoid unnecessary delays and carry out the terms of your Will in an efficient manner with little supervision by the court.

What if I don't have a Will when I die?

Then Illinois law will dictate who takes possession of your assets and who manages your estate through a lengthy and expensive process. Additionally, if you have minor children, a judge will appoint a guardian for them.

Can I make changes to my Will after it has been executed?

Generally, yes, you may modify your Will at any time by executing a document called a "Codicil," or you can completely revoke your Will by executing a subsequent Will. You should consider making revisions to your estate plan every five to seven years, or immediately following any major life event, including marriage, divorce or death of a loved one.

Should I consider a Trust?

Yes, a Trust can be of great benefit to most individuals and families for a variety of reasons. Even with a Will, the probate process may last several months, or sometimes over a year to complete. By placing your assets into a Trust, you may be able to completely avoid the intervention of the probate courts. Furthermore, by placing your assets into a Trust, you may be able to keep your assets, and the disposition of those assets, private. When you die, a Will needs to be filed with the court, thereby becoming a public record.

Why is Medicaid planning important to me?

Long-term care expenses can be crippling for any family, and the timing of a nursing home admission is rarely predictable. The prudent thing for anyone to do is to therefore plan ahead. Medicaid is a public assistance program which covers long-term care expenses, such as nursing home bills, in certain circumstances. There are very rigid rules that are used to determine if a person is eligible for this type of assistance, but proper asset management guidance and planning by a competent attorney may help you or your loved ones become, or remain, eligible for Medicaid assistance.

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