Chicago Office:
321 N. Clark Street 5th Fl
Chicago, IL 60654
Tel: 847-518-8000
Fax: 847-518-8006

Chicago Office:
By Appointment Only:
Tel: 312-861-1166

Randy W. Franklin

Admitted: Georgia, Illinois, Wisconsin
Law School: Massey Law College, JD.
College: Bradley University, B.A.

Wills, Trusts and Estates

Every person needs a will, but many people believe that a simple will is all they need as far as estate planning goes. In reality, a will alone is rarely enough. Franklin Law Offices has more than 37 years of experience in creating wills and planning your estate. Our goal is to help you create an estate plan that truly meets your needs.

What Wills Do

A will is a legal declaration by which a person, the testator, names one or more persons to manage his/her estate and provides for the transfer of his/her property at death. In the strictest sense, a will tells the court where you want your assets to go. In the strictest sense, a "will" has historically been limited to real property while "testament" applies only to dispositions of personal property (thus giving rise to the popular title of the document as "Last Will and Testament"), though this distinction is seldom observed today.

Franklin Law Offices will take the time to educate you about the strengths of a stand alone will, as well as the limitations. We believe in face-to-face communication, and we will take the time to get to know your situation so that we can provide estate planning guidance that is customized to your situation. We provide a comfortable environment for you to make important decisions.

What Wills Do NOT Do: Avoid Probate

A common misconception is that having a will means that you will avoid probate court. In reality, any estate valued at more than $100,000 will require you to go to probate court, will or no will. The only way to avoid probate is through the use of trusts, including revocable living trusts and land trusts, and other estate planning tools. Avoiding probate court proceedings after your death can save your family time, money, and headaches. Franklin Law Offices will help you determine if the use of these tools makes sense in your situation.

Living Trusts

A Living Trust is an alternative to probate and places all of the assets that you own during your lifetime into a revocable trust. A living trust can be changed, amended, or terminated in whole or in part by the individual at any time, provided you are of sound mind. Under a living trust, you can be named as your own trustee for your own property. Upon your disability during your lifetime, you can name a successor trustee to manage your assets and pay your debts. Upon your death, you can name a successor trustee to insure that your assets are distributed as you so designate in your living trust.

There is no need to establish a living trust during your lifetime if you do not have many assets or the total value of your estate is less than $100,000.00. Ask Mr. Franklin if a living trust is what you require.

Living Wills and Medical Powers Of Attorney

Living Will

A Living Will provides an individual the ability to provide instructions specifying what action should be taken for their health in the event they are no longer able to make a decision due to illness or incapacity. An individual appoints a person to make such decisions on their behalf. A Living Will is a personal decision made by an individual and once it is signed and properly witnessed, copies of the document should be distributed to the person's family physician and any other attending or treating physicians. By law, a physician or hospital is to keep this document with your medical records.

A living will is one form of advance directive, leaving instructions for treatment. A Medical or Health Care Power of Attorney is where someone is appointed by the individual to make decisions on their behalf when they are incapacitated.

Contact Franklin Law Offices for assistance with your living will and health care power of attorney.

Financial or Durable Power of Attorney

A Financial or Durable Power of Attorney is signed by you during your lifetime and gives power to an individual that you name to act on your behalf for financial purposes. It is effective only upon your being declared by a doctor to be incapable of managing your finances. It is important to have a Financial or Durable Power of Attorney so that in the event of incapacity, that named individual can write checks, take money from your savings or otherwise manage your assets and pay your bills and to further pay for your medical care and the needs of your family. Let Franklin Law Offices help protect you and your finances.

Estate Tax or Inheritance Tax

An inheritance tax or estate tax is a tax levied on a person who inherits money or property, or a tax on the estate (total value of the money and property), of a person who has died. In addition to the federal government, many states also impose an estate tax, with the state version called either an estate tax or an inheritance tax. If an asset is left to a (Federally recognized) spouse or a charitable organization, the tax usually does not apply. Let Mr. Franklin and Franklin Law Offices help you determine how to protect your loved ones from hefty estate tax.

Estates, Executors and Probate Court

An estate is the net worth of a person at any point in time. It is the sum of a person's assets, legal rights, interests and entitlements to property of any kind, less all liabilities at that time.

An Executor is a legal term referring to a person named by the maker of a will, or nominated by the testator, to carry out the directions of the will. Typically, the executor is the person responsible for offering the will for probate, disbursement of property to the beneficiaries, obtaining information about any other potential heirs, collecting and arranging for payment of debts of the estate and approving or disapproving creditors' claims. Executors make sure estate taxes are calculated, necessary forms are filed and tax payments are made. They assist the attorney for the estate. Also the executor makes all donations to charitable and other organizations as directed in the will. In most circumstances the executor is the representative of the estate for all purposes, and has the ability to sue or be sued on behalf of the estate. The executor also holds legal title to the estate property, but may not use that property for the executor's own benefit unless expressly permitted by the terms of the will.

Probate is a court process deals with matters of probate and the administration of estates. Probate courts administer proper distribution of the assets of a decedent (one who has died), reviews the validity of wills, enforces the provisions of a valid will, prevents hostility by executors of the estates and provides for the equitable distribution of the assets of persons who die without a valid will.

Generally, probate assets are those assets in the decedent's name alone (or otherwise owned solely by the decedent) which contain no provision for automatic succession of ownership at death. The following are a few examples of probate assets and non-probate assets:

  • Probate Assets bank account in the name of the decedent only life insurance policy payable to the decedent's estate real estate title in the decedent's name only (except homestead)
  • Non-Probate Assets bank account held in trust for (ITF) another or held jointly life insurance policy payable to a specific beneficiary real estate held jointly with rights of survivorship or as tenants by the entirety

  • In contested matters, a probate court examines the authenticity of a will and decides who is to receive the deceased person's property. Franklin Law Offices has over 37 years of assisting its clients with Wills, Trusts and Estate Planning. Contact Franklin Law Offices today for assistance with yours.