Why You Want To Avoid Probate?

Probate is the legal process used to validate your will and settle your estate. It can be costly, take time, expose the details of your estate to public scrutiny, and freeze assets at a time when loved ones may need them most. Any assets that you can pass on without a will (by asset titling or naming beneficiaries) can go directly to heirs with no need to wait for the probate process.

Probate costs: 1%–6% of estate’s market value

Time required: 6–9 months minimum; can be 2 or more years on average.

So, what does this mean for my family?  This means…

1.)  Wasting time and money on probate court.

2.) Eliminating privacy – probate court is public record.

3.) Maximizes emotional stress on your family.

4.) Doesn’t protect from beneficiaries’ creditors, spouses, divorce proceedings, irresponsible spending and future death taxes.

5.) Allows the court to control inheritance of minor children. If you want to delegate specific amounts to money to children, your preferences are not considered. Everything is left for the courts to decide.


Estate Planning in Chicago

Chicago Estate Planning

Estate PlanningDid you know that if you do not create your own estate plan, the state and IRS have created one for you?

Most people are completely unaware of this and their heirs are often surprised and disappointed at the consequences. Only through a carefully considered estate plan can you have complete control over who receives your legacy.

Proper estate planning is crucial for the protection of those you love.

We will work to ensure taxes do not consume too much of what you have accumulated over many years of hard work and that your financial legacy is passed on to your loved ones. Our goal is to ensure that your belongings are passed down to the people that you choose at the time you choose, and under the conditions that you choose – and not pursuant to the state’s plan.

Even if you have an existing estate plan, did you know that an incomplete or outdated plan could be worse than no plan at all? At the Ted London and Associates, we review many Chicago estate plans and often find their original objectives to be obsolete, and changed circumstances to be completely unaddressed. We will be happy to review yours.

A good Chicago estate plan is also a way of preserving your family’s legacy – protecting the assets you have left to your children or grandchildren from creditors, predators or, in some cases, from your children themselves. At the Morton Law Firm, we can create the proper type of plan that will protect your hard-earned assets from passing to anyone other than those you intended.

Why Plan Your Estate in Chicago

The knowledge that we will eventually die is one of the things that seems to distinguish humans from other living beings. At the same time, no one likes to dwell on the prospect of his or her own death. But if you postpone planning for your demise until it is too late, you run the risk that your intended beneficiaries — those you love the most — may not receive what you would want them to receive whether due to extra administration costs, unnecessary taxes or squabbling among your heirs.

This is why estate planning is so important, no matter how small your estate may be. It allows you, while you are still living, to ensure that your property will go to the people you want, in the way you want, and when you want. It permits you to save as much as possible on taxes, court costs and attorneys’ fees; and it affords the comfort that your loved ones can mourn your loss without being simultaneously burdened with unnecessary red tape and financial confusion.

All estate plans should include, at minimum, these important estate planning instruments: a durable power of attorney, a will, and a medical directive. The first is for managing your property during your life, in case you are ever unable to do so yourself. The second is for the management and distribution of your property after death. In addition, more and more, Americans also are using revocable (or “living”) trusts to avoid probate and to manage their estates both during their lives and after they’re gone.


Benefits of a Living Trust in Chicago


Many people  in Chicago now choose a living trust instead of relying on a will or joint ownership in their estate planning. A properly prepared and funded living will can provide many benefits for you and your loved ones.

Here’s how a Living Trust helps you….

  • Avoids wasting time and money on probate court (multiple probates if you own assets in more than one state).
  • Provides easier, more efficient administration of your estate
  • Gives you and your family maximum privacy by avoiding public court processes.
  • Minimizes emotional stress on your family.
  • Brings all of your assets into one plan controlled by one set of instructions.
  • Prevents unintentional disinheriting
  • Lets you keep assets in the trust until your beneficiaries reach the age(s) you want them to inherit.
  • Can continue longer to provide for a loved one with special needs.
  • Assets can remain in the trust and be protected from beneficiaries’ creditors, spouses, divorce proceedings, irresponsible spending and future death taxes.
  • Prevents the court from controlling inheritance of minor children.
  • More difficult than a will to contest.
  • Provides effective pre-nuptial protection.
  • Can be changed or cancelled at any time.
  • Can include tax planning to reduce or eliminate state and/or federal estate taxes.
  • Lets you keep maximum control while you are living (even if incapacitated) and after you die.
  • Peace of mind.


It will probably cost more initially to set up a well-drafted living trust than to have a will prepared. One reason is that a living trust has more provisions because it deals with estate management while you loved one is still living opposed to a will which is only valid after the passing of a loved one. When comparing costs, remember that the true cost of a will must include the costs of probate which is still required when you pass away, possible conservatorship if you become incapacitated and the costs of a guardianship if you leave assets to minor children.

After weighing the costs and benefits, it is easy to see why so many people and professionals prefer a living trust.


Consequences of No Estate Planning

“We as African Americans have the capacity to pass on more wealth than any previous generation—wealth needed to continue to finance the progress and empowerment of future generations. But this potential cannot be realized if we don’t collectively commit to estate planning. Merely buying enough life insurance to cover the costs of our burials may have been acceptable for our parents, but it’s not even close to good enough for our children and grandchildren.

How big a crisis is this? Nearly 70% of African Americans estate plan in place. Not only does this put our ability to transfer wealth to future generations at risk, it also comes at a tremendous cost. Without an estate plan, your assets fall subject to probate. According to studies, probate costs surviving families a collective $2 billion annually—including more than $1.5 billion in attorney fees. Dying intestate (passing away without a valid will) not only blocks the transfer of wealth; it can leave a crippling financial burden to your heirs.


Estate planning means future generations not having to start from scratch to launch their businesses, or to finance the growth of those we leave to them. It means lessening our children’s and grandchildren’s dependence on student loans. It means providing the resources necessary to support the institutions, including historically black colleges and universities, necessary for the continued progress of African Americans.

To achieve all of this and more requires us to establish an estate plan NO WILLS!not tomorrow, or someday, but NOW! And once those are in place, it also means reviewing and updating these documents as necessary, as births, deaths, changes in marital status, and other life transitions take place.

Wealth building is not just about financing our lives; it’s about leaving a legacy for our children, and their children, to build upon. Our commitment to black financial empowerment requires us to put in place the tools and measures necessary for preserving and transferring our wealth, no matter how much—or how little—we believe we have, to future generations”.

– Earl G. Graves Sr. is the Founder and Publisher of Black Enterprise.


Setting Up Estate Planning to Help Your Senior Parents?

93% of the parents surveyed feel it would be unacceptable to become financially dependent on their children, yet only 30% of children feel the same.

“While family conversations around important topics such as retirement preparedness, eldercare, and estate planning can be difficult and aren’t always easy to initiate, parents approaching retirement might be pleasantly surprised to discover their kids expect to help,” say survey researchers.

In addition to illuminating the differing attitudes between both groups when it comes to financial eldercare, the study also shows a disturbing lack of communication when it comes to health and estate planning.

  • 92% of parents expect one of their children to be the executor of their estate
  • Only 27% of the kids identified as filling the role knew this
  • Just 40% of the children identified as being the long-term caregiver were aware
  • and just 36% of the children identified as managing finances when their parents are unable knew this was his or her parent’s plan

“These discrepancies highlight the fact that many families need to do a better job of being on the same page when it comes to financial planning” says John Sweeney, executive vice president of Retirement and Investing Strategies at Fidelity.

Fidelity suggests families:

  • Initiate family discussions earlier. These conversations should begin taking place before retirement, and certainly well before any challenges arise.
  • Ask as many detailed questions as you can. Don’t be afraid to ask even the most seemingly obvious questions.
  • When having discussions, follow the “voice not vote” rule. While family members should have a role in the planning process, make sure the ultimate decisions made are consistent with the wishes of the parents, who are charting the course of the rest of their lives.
  • Define family roles. Advanced planning can help define roles and choose when and how different people will be involved. It’s also important to consider the personalities of each child, as well as their proximity, relationship with parents, and other nuances that play into long-term decision making.

Sweeney adds that it’s important to schedule as many get-togethers as needed—and revisit those plans at least annually, to make sure they still make sense.

We Care About Your Family… Do You?

The Family Care Expo is one-day resource fair and forum designed to provide you with the resources, products, and information to create a better future for you and your loved ones.

With over 30 exhibitors present, the expo will feature workshops , clinics, and one-on-one consultations. Looking to get informed? A broad range of topics will be covered, including:

-Estate planning
-College planning
-Disability resources


There will be job opportunities available at WVON’s Family Care Expo on Saturday in the healthcare field. Become a Care Coordinator or learn how to earn while caring for your loved ones at home as a caregiver. This workshop starts promptly at 10am at Malcolm X College, 1900 West Jackson Blvd. The workshop is free because WVON is cool like that!

Sponsored by Meridian Health Plan!


Image may contain: 6 people, people smiling

Cliff Kelley live at the radio station WVON 1690 AM.

What is the Value of the Trust?

To carry out their duties properly, trustees must first ascertain the value on the date of each asset held in trust. This requires an inventory and appraisal of trust assets. One reason for this is to determine the net worth of the decedent, and determine whether federal estate taxes apply. Once the trustee has an accurate inventory of items in the trust, he or she must update the inventory list as items increase or decrease in value.

The Legal Line with Cliff Kelley – Aug 2017

While establishing a trust allows beneficiaries access to assets without going through probate, the legal obligation does not end with the creation of the trust. With the passing of the trustor, handling these sometimes-complex legal matters falls on the trustee, who has certain fiduciary duties to both the trust and its beneficiaries, not to mention an obligation to respect the final wishes of the trustor. Fiduciary oversight includes a number of duties, such as complying with state and federal laws, correctly transferring assets to beneficiaries, and preserving trust funds. Using an experienced Illinois trust attorney ensures that trustees fulfill these duties.

The Legal Line with Cliff Kelley – July 2017

The Importance of A Properly Administered Trust

A properly drafted and administered trust is an effective planning tool to help estates avoid going through probate. However, a trust cannot accomplish this goal unless it is administered correctly, ensuring the trustmaker’s wishes are carried out. A properly administered trust requires oversight. There are also costs and expenses associated with trust administration. An Illinois trust attorney advises and guides trustees through this often-confusing process.