Ashes: A Reminder of Our Mortality

Image is Public Domain

Public Domain — from WIkipedia

“All go to the same place; all come from dust, and to dust all return.” Ecclesiastes 3:20

Ash Wednesday is a good reminder of our mortality, a part of life Americans tend to put off considering for a long time.

As an estate planning / probate attorney, I’ve experienced the same thing with my clients. Often when someone comes to me for a comprehensive estate plan, they have to face some tough questions about their own death and what will happen to them on their deathbed, and what will happen to all the things they can’t take into the afterlife. Sometimes this brings about unpleasant memories of loved ones who have passed already, and sometimes fears about death itself.

But remembering our mortality is important, because Continue reading


Avoiding probate with your real estate

photo by Richard West, licensed by Creative Commons

photo by Richard West, licensed by Creative Commons

One of the common mantras in estate planning that appears over and over is to avoid probate as much as possible. In 2012 Illinois made this a little easier by enacting Transfer-On-Death (TOD) instruments under 755 ILCS 27/1 et seq. Continue reading

Who takes care of my kids if I pass away?

Kids playing with marbles, photo by Tup Wanders (courtesy of Wikipedia)

Kids playing with marbles, photo by Tup Wanders (courtesy of Wikipedia)

Many people think about writing a will as something to put off for tomorrow, thinking that their kids are automatically going to get everything, and that’s that. But another aspect of a will that many people don’t consider is planning for who will step in to take care of your children if you pass away. Continue reading

Multiple Marriages & Inheritance

People in certain marital situations are at a greater need of a good estate plan.

Whereas many people believe that when they die, everything automatically goes to the family members they live with, that is usually not the case after a divorce and/or remarriage. The reality is that a marital dissolution causes consequences to your estate plan. Continue reading

Risky Do-It-Yourself Documents, Part 1: Wills

LegalZoom, RocketLawyer, and Nolo are all common suppliers of Do-It-Yourself legal services these days. All of these (and many more) offer a document production system that makes writing a will, a landlord-tenant agreement, an employment contract, or other documents as easy as a small software fee. But as many a lawyer will advise his clients that might be thinking about these services, he’ll still be there to clean up the mess when it eventually appears. Continue reading