What Our Estate Planning Legal Team Can Help You Accomplish
Our lawyers can assist you with leaving something behind for your loved ones. A clear and comprehensive estate plan can be a wonderful gift to leave your family. Not only does it ensure they will receive the benefits of your life’s work, but it also removes much of the confusion that can often accompany estate administration. By committing your final wishes to writing with the help of an experienced estate planning lawyer, you can avoid unnecessary taxes, minimize the costs and delays associated with probate and ensure your property goes to the benefit of the people and causes that matter to you. Our attorneys at the law firm of Giffin, Winning, Cohen & Bodewes, P.C. offer a full range of estate planning services tailored to accomplish the unique goals of each of our clients in the Springfield, Illinois area.
Estate planning is more than just wills, trusts, and probate. Although they are an important part of it, there are numerous actions you can take during your life to protect your property from medical debts, dissipate your estates to minimize estate taxes, provide for the management of your property in the case of incapacity, and generally ease the transition of your property to your family or whomever else you chose. By avoiding ambiguities in your final wishes, you can spare your family significant stress and consternation, and even avoid costly civil litigation regarding your estate or affairs.
We recognize that our clients have worked hard to get where they are today and want to ensure the security of their assets, their businesses, and their families. To serve these various objectives, our practice at Giffin, Winning, Cohen & Bodewes, P.C. utilizes all the legal tools at our disposal to create innovative and effective estate and incapacity plans for you:
- Financial Planning
- Risk Management
- Living Wills / Advance Directives
- Medical Powers of Attorney
- Financial Powers of Attorney
- Living Trusts
- Charitable Trusts
- Gift Planning
- Estate, Gift, and Generation-Skipping Transfer Tax Planning
- Tax Planning
- Tax Litigation
- Business Succession Planning
- Life Insurance Planning
- Estate Administration
- Contested Probate Proceedings
- IRS Audits
- Pre-Marital and Post-Marital Agreements
- Charitable Contributions
- Employee Benefits
- Executive Compensation
- Profit Sharing
- Inter vivos gifts
- Charitable Giving
Attorneys at Giffin, Winning, Cohen & Bodewes are actively involved with numerous charities as donors, board members, fundraisers, volunteers, and of course, as legal counsel. This intimate knowledge of the charitable and non-profit world is invaluable in assisting clients with charitable giving matters. Sometimes the charitable giving is done during life, which may give rise to issues related to gift tax, income tax, trusts, endowment funding, and other issues. Charitable gifts made as part of an estate plan also give rise to concerns about estate taxation. For those who are charitable-minded, there are many vehicles available to delay capital gains on appreciated assets and to obtain income tax benefits while benefiting the charity of your choice.
Please contact us for assistance on the legal issues arising from charitable giving. In addition, if it is helpful to you, our attorneys will share practical ideas from their own experience and introduce you to others in the non-profit community who can help you best carry out your charitable wishes. One example is the Sangamon County Community Foundation, which helps generous people impact the causes that are important to them, all for the benefit of our local community. Many other organizations are similarly available to assist with your charitable wishes, whether it involves creating a scholarship, funding an endowment to benefit the arts, assisting the homeless, protecting the environment, or whatever else is important to you.
- Estate & Trust Administration
At Giffin, Winning, Cohen & Bodewes, it is our goal to make the administration of the deceased person's estate as easy as possible. Our attorneys recognize that the passing of a loved one is a difficult time and will handle the preparation of all necessary probate documents and assist the estate representative through each step of the probate process. If the decedent's assets are held in trust, our lawyers will counsel the trustee on how the trust is to be administered, in addition to advising the representative on whether estate taxes will be owed.
- Estate Claim Litigation
Money that is owed by a deceased person generally becomes a debt of his or her estate. The person or entity owed money has the right to file a claim against the estate in Probate Court and ask for payment. However, the estate representative has the obligation to defend the estate against any questionable or invalid claims. The attorneys at Giffin, Winning, Cohen & Bodewes have vast experience handling litigation associated with claims against estates. If you have a claim against an estate or are responsible for an estate against which a claim has been filed, one of our attorneys will counsel you on your rights and help you to develop an appropriate course of action based on your needs.
- Estate Planning & Probate
Giffin, Winning, Cohen & Bodewes's estate planning attorneys provide clients throughout central Illinois with the necessary knowledge to make informed decisions regarding wills, trusts, probate, and related issues. To that end, our attorneys keep abreast of the latest developments in the trust and estate field, both nationally and on the state level. After a thorough review of the client's wishes and financial status, our estate planning lawyers prepare wills and trusts, living trusts, and powers of attorney that meet the client's needs and minimize the tax implications for all concerned. We carefully consider various contingencies, such as the possibility of future incapacity or disability, and work closely with our clients to provide a secure plan for the future.
- Guardianship of Disabled Adults
Facing the fact that a family member can no longer make his or her own decisions is difficult for any family. The attorneys at Giffin, Winning, Cohen & Bodewes have helped many families in this situation by providing both legal and practical guidance. Guardianship issues may involve financial questions, healthcare concerns, or both. In some emergency cases, a temporary guardianship may be obtained in a matter of days. However, the better plan is to find legal counsel before a crisis situation arises. In addition to obtaining guardianships when needed, our estate planning team often represents families in advance planning to avoid guardianship issues through the use of powers of attorney and living trusts.
Attorneys at Giffin, Winning, Cohen & Bodewes regularly work with clients to respond to tax audits at the federal, state, and local levels. Our firm can assist in responding to audits and tax contests through either the administrative process or through litigation to support the position of the taxpayer. Additional information is available on our Taxation page.
- Will Contests
Are you concerned that your loved one's estate plan did not reflect their true intent or believe that the will violates a previous contractual agreement? The attorneys at Giffin, Winning, Cohen & Bodewes have represented numerous heirs who had concerns about the validity of a will or trust. If you are concerned that your lost family member was under duress or lacked proper mental testamentary capacity when an estate plan was changed, please contact us. Your rights to challenge the estate administration may expire unless you act promptly.
Effective Use of Wills and Trusts
Our attorneys can help you get the most from these legal tools
Whether used separately or in tandem, wills and trusts are valuable and flexible legal tools. But mere boilerplate documents rarely serve the purpose for which they were intended and, under some circumstances, can even make matters worse. Our experienced attorneys at Giffin, Winning, Cohen & Bodewes, P.C. take the time to listen to you and draft documents tailored to achieve your goals. We are also candid with you about the scope of the estate planning services you need based on the size of your estate, your objectives, and your concerns. As such, we have helped clients in the Springfield, Illinois area craft estate plans ranging from simple wills to complex arrangements involving multiple trusts. Regardless of your situation, you can count on our lawyers to provide creative and effective solutions that meet your financial needs.
Why You Need a Will
While the increasing use of trusts in estate planning has reduced its emphasis, a well-drafted will should still be the centerpiece of every estate plan. In more complex estate arrangements, such as living trusts, the will can serve to ensure that even if problems develop with the trust, none of your assets will fall through the cracks and be subject to intestacy — the default distribution scheme for assets in Illinois that the estate plan does not otherwise address. And while some estate planning firms may attempt to sell you on complex or novel estate plans, in many circumstances a will is sufficient by itself, provided that it is clear and comprehensive. Our estate planning lawyers in Springfield, Illinois do not hesitate to inform you when we believe a will alone is sufficient to meet your objectives and are happy to spare you the expense and effort involved in administering an unnecessarily complex estate plan.
Types and Uses of Trusts
A trust is a legal device by which a settlor transfers property to a trustee with instructions that the trustee holds and manages that property for the best interests of one or more beneficiaries. The uses and types of trust arrangements are myriad, and our attorneys have utilized them for numerous purposes, including asset protection, tax planning and probate avoidance. Trusts are especially useful for making gifts or bequests to minors, incapacitated loved ones and others who are unable to responsibly handle money or property.
Guidance Through the Probate Process
Probate is the court-administered process of distributing a person’s property after death, usually according to the terms of a written will and under the supervision of a designated executor. But while there is a common conception of probate as an interminable and expensive process, it can actually proceed fairly smoothly with the guidance of an experienced probate lawyer. Our attorneys have assisted executors throughout the central Illinois area in administering all manner of estates with various degrees of complexity. When necessary, our lawyers are also prepared to litigate probate disputes and have represented executors, aggrieved beneficiaries and potential beneficiaries.
Contact our Illinois attorneys today to begin the estate planning process
Our attorneys possess an abundant knowledge and experience helping individuals and families throughout central Illinois with their estate planning needs. We can provide estate planning services ranging from simple wills to complex trust arrangements for individuals and families throughout the central Illinois area. Contact Giffin, Winning, Cohen & Bodewes, P.C. by calling our office at 217.525.1571 to schedule a consultation with one of our experienced lawyers.