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5 Steps for Making a Living Will in Illinois

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Feeding tubes? CPR? Before you are on your deathbed, you are likely to have strong preferences about how your end-of-life care should be handled. In the event you become incapacitated and no longer have the capability to express wishes for your medical care, a living will becomes vital.

A living will is a legal document that clearly spells out how your physician should conduct your end-of-life medical care. Also known as an advance directive or directive to physicians, a living will is invaluable in giving the incapacitated individual control over his or her final days of healthcare.

The Importance of Having a Living WillLast-Will-and-Testament-Form-with-Gavel

Without a living will, doctors and family members of the person in a terminal condition have no way of knowing his or her preferences surrounding end-of-life medical care. Given the short-lived but powerful directives of the living will, developing a living will while you are in good health is critical.

Each state in the US has differing laws surrounding the terms of a living will. In Illinois, the definition of a living will is provided in the Illinois Living Will Act. The Act stipulates that the living will may indicate whether or not the incapacitated person wishes to have his or her death delayed by medical procedures.

Any individual over the age of 18 and who takes up residence in Illinois may execute a living will. When a living will is signed into effect in another state, Illinois law recognizes the living will.

5 Steps to Create a Living Will

1. Discuss Your Wishes with Your Physician

The first step in creating a living will is to discuss with your physician whether or not he or she will comply with your medical instructions in the event you become incapacitated.

2. Record Your Decisions

Write down your decisions regarding whether or not to receive death-delaying medical procedures. A lawyer may be hired to prepare the living will. Alternately, you may elect to utilize living will software that complies with Illinois’ laws.

Aside from being cost-effective, using a software to create a legally binding living will allows you to update it at any time. Ensure the living will is official. Medical professionals and hospitals are more likely to enforce an official living will rather than an unofficial document.

3. Have Witnesses Sign the Will

Witnesses give legal credibility to the living will. You will first need to sign the living will in front of two witnesses who are at least 18 years of age. Once you provide your signature, the two witnesses must sign the living will. Carefully choose your witnesses. Anyone responsible for your healthcare is not permitted to sign as a witness. In addition, any person who stands to inherit property is not a credible witness in the eyes of the law and cannot legally serve as a witness.

Once signed, the living will takes effect. Alternately, you may elect to have the living will enforced when you are deemed unable to relay decisions about death-delaying treatment. For as long as possible, physicians will rely on your ability to communicate, as opposed to the living will, even if the living will takes effect immediately.

4. Distributed the Signed or Notarized Living Will

Distribute the signed or notarized living will to your medical team, estate planning lawyer, and/or family. Healthcare professionals and institutions you may wish to send the living will to include your doctor and the hospital or healthcare facility.

The hospital will store the living will in your medical file. Your lawyer should also receive a copy. Family members should be notified, as well any other trusted individuals who will carry out your last medical requests. Noting who receives a copy of your living will is important in the event you decide to update or cancel the document.

5. Assign an Agent or Healthcare Professional to the Will

Assign an agent or healthcare proxy to carry out your end-of-life medical requests. This individual works in conjunction with a durable power of attorney (DPOA). Living wills can be combined with a DPOA document in a few states.

Your agent can be someone you trust, like a spouse, family member or close friend. An ideal choice is someone who will not give way under pressure if arguments arise about your care. Under Illinois law, your agent cannot be your attending physician or healthcare provider. When you are no longer able to communicate decisions about your end-of-life care, your agent steps in, putting in motion the wishes outlined in your living will.

How to Cancel a Living Will

Canceling your living will is relatively simple. Write out a note that specifies the cancelation. This signed document must then be sent to anyone who received a copy of the original living will. You may also verbally cancel an existing living will by telling a witness aged 18 or over about your wish to cancel it.

Subsequently, the witness should provide a written document confirming the cancelation. Most importantly, your doctor should receive notice about the cancelation. The physician will add the cancelation note into your medical file, and attending medical professionals will accordingly disregard the canceled living will.

When to Create a Living Will

The best time to create a living will is now. When you are able to communicate your decisions about end-of-life care, take steps to write it down with the help of Oak Lawn’s most respected will and trust attorneys, Berry K. Tucker & Associates, Ltd. No matter how overwhelming the thought of creating a living will can be, the established attorneys at Berry K. Tucker & Associates, Ltd. will simplify the process.

Skilled lawyers from the Berry K. Tucker & Associates, Ltd. team stay updated on the changing laws in Illinois. With unmatched expertise, the attorneys take the time to fully understand your unique situation and help develop the most optimal legal documents to carry out your stated wishes. The legal team at Berry K. Tucker & Associates, Ltd. sees to it that your living will is created in accordance with Illinois law. Appropriate legal documentation is necessary for proper execution.

Contact Us

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Residents of the Oak Lawn, Illinois, and surrounding communities know they can rely on the knowledgeable will and trust attorneys at Berry K. Tucker & Associates, Ltd. To schedule an initial consultation with one of our attorneys, contact us directly at (708) 425-9530 or fill out a form and we will get back to you shortly!

Tax Breaks That Help Parents

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The bright, inquisitive eyes and delightful smiles of babies are incredibly endearing. What may not be so charming is the sticker shock parents face when raising their bundle of joy. A middle-income family will expect to shell out nearly a quarter of a million dollars, $233,610 to be exact, to bring up a baby who was born in 2015. On average, families spend anywhere from $12,350 to $14,000 per year to cover the expenses related to child rearing, according to the statistics gathered by the United States Department of Agriculture.

The Costs of Child-Bearing


The costs of having children are astronomical. But these tax breaks can help to save thousands when parents need it most.

How could a giggling youngster possibly require hundreds of thousands of dollars to rear? Housing, namely an extra bedroom, is the primary expenditure. Growing babies need sustenance, and food costs contribute to the next highest expense for families—at least 18 percent of total child-rearing expenses. Child care costs, which average $37,378 per child, comes in third as the next most pricey responsibility parents face. As children grow into teenagers, transportation, and health care costs surge. Hungry teenagers also account for a rapid spike in food costs for parents—up to 22 percent more than feeding a child between 6 and 8 years of age.

The US government is keenly aware of the high cost of raising a child. As a benefit to parents, federal tax breaks are available. A parent simply needs the child’s social security number to claim the child as a dependent on the parent’s tax return.

Dependency Tax Break

Parents can claim their child as a dependent, saving the parents $4,050 (in 2017). Keep in mind that the more income parents earn, the exemption is accordingly lowered. Single parents who bring in over $259,400 in gross income or couples who file a joint return and earn over $311,300 see a reduction in the dependency exemption.

Child Tax Credit

Parents of children under the age of 17 receive an annual child tax credit of $1,000. Once the child reaches his or her 17th birthday, however, parents are no longer eligible to receive the credit. Parents may only claim the child tax credit if their income meets certain standards: income that does not exceed $110,000 for married parents, $75,000 for single parents and $55,000 for married people filing separately.

Child Care Credit

Paying for child care is taxing. Uncle Sam, however, gives parents a tax credit in the form of a child care tax credit. Working parents can earn a child care tax credit that falls in the range of $600 to $1,050 (if child care expenses are for one child under 13 years old) or $1,200 to $2,100 (if two or more kids under the age of 13 receive child care). The amount of child care credit parents receive depends on two factors: how much parents pay for child care and their annual income.

Paycheck Withholdings

Employees with children can boost their take home pay by claiming an additional withholding allowance. Parents simply need to fill out and submit a new W-4 form to their employer, to claim the allowance.

Head of Household Status

Those parents who file their taxes using the single filing status should instead consider filing as head of household. A single parent needs to first qualify as head of household. To be eligible to file as head of household, the filer must be unmarried for that tax year. Additionally, the parent must provide at least half the cost of housing a qualifying person or dependent, such as a son or daughter.

A qualifying child must also be under the age of 19 if he or she is not enrolled as a student and under the age of 24 if he or she is a student in college fulltime. A qualifying dependent must also have lived in the home of the head of household for six months or more.

Adoption Credit

Parents of adoptees are eligible to receive the adoption credit, provided their modified adjusted gross income does not exceed $243,540—at which point the adoption credit is eliminated. High-income earners with wages that fall between $203,541 and $243,539 (in 2017) will see a reduction in the amount of the adoption credit.

Earned Income Tax Credit

The earned income tax credit (EITC) is available to low-income or moderate-income working parents with qualifying children. Working parents receive a tax credit that is equivalent to a percentage of their income and which is capped at a maximum credit. The credits increase in proportion to the number of children in the family. In 2017, for example, parents with one child received a maximum of $3,400 in earned income tax credits. During the same year, families with three or more children received a maximum of $6,318 in earned income tax credits.

Wills, Trusts, and Estate Planning

No matter what tax breaks families receive, fresh-faced children, with eager inclinations to explore the new world around them, are vulnerable without solid, future financial plans arranged by their parents. Plan your family’s security with a legal will and trust. A trust is a fiduciary arrangement that outlines when assets are to be dispersed to beneficiaries by a designated third party. Trusts avoid probate, making the assets more quickly accessible to beneficiaries as opposed to a will.

When you elect to create a will or trust, Berry K. Tucker & Associates, Ltd. will guide you through the legal process. Our law firm of trust and estate planning attorneys offers over 50 years of combined legal experience, including drafting wills and trusts for area families. Our skilled trust and estate planning attorneys provide their legal expertise to create, modify or contest wills.

Numerous trusts are available based on varying state laws. Examples of trusts include dynasty trusts, spendthrift trusts, charitable trusts, family trusts, irrevocable trusts, and special needs trusts. The knowledgeable lawyers at Berry K. Tucker & Associates, Ltd. will help you navigate through the many trust options and select the most appropriate trust to benefit your family’s individual needs.


Berry Tucker has years of experience with wills and trusts as well as estate planning. Give him a call to learn more about how he can help you with your documents.

Our lawyers at Berry K. Tucker & Associates, Ltd. stay current on the changing Illinois laws surrounding trusts and estate planning. We serve the Oak Lawn, IL and surrounding communities with dedication and commitment.

Schedule a Consultation

To schedule your initial consultation with one of our estate planning attorneys, give us a call at (708) 425-9530 or fill out a contact form. We look forward to working with you soon!

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