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Different Types of Wills

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Wills offer peace of mind. These important legal documents stipulate how your assets will be distributed once you have passed. Without a will, the state of Illinois, via the Illinois Probate Act, determines how your assets will be handled. The best time to create a will is now, whether or not you are in peak health, to ensure your loved ones’ futures are secure.

The type of will you create can fall into any of the following four variations and be legally recognized in the state of Illinois.

Here are the Different Types of WillsLast-Will-and-Testament-Form-with-Gavel

Simple Will

Simple wills are just that, simple to create, require minimum effort to draft and address most assets. This type of will is especially ideal for those who do not own a major estate that is subject to estate taxes.

A simple will manages your last desires, including

  • Distributing property once you are deceased
  • Designating a guardian for your minor children
  • Appointing an individual to handle your minor children’s financial affairs and
  • Naming a person to execute your estate

A simple will normally take care of the needs of people under the age of 50 who have a small estate (your property). If you own significant assets or property or will owe estate taxes upon your death, a simple will may not be for you. Plus, if you intend to distribute your wealth to your children and, when they die, to your grandchildren, you will require a more complex will.

You, as the testator (the person writing the will), can write a simple will without the assistance of a will and trust attorney. Once the will is written, at least two witnesses (according to Illinois law) must sign the form in order for it to be legally binding; these witnesses must not be beneficiaries. Individuals may create simple wills via self-help books, online forms, and software designed to develop these legal documents.

Testamentary Trust Wills

When you designate a portion of your property to a trust, you require a testamentary trust will. This type will allow your property to be your beneficiary, but a designated trustee manages the details of how and when your assets are dispersed to the trust beneficiary.

For instance, you designate your oldest child as your beneficiary but stipulate that your brother acts as the trustee. The trustee manages the funds, doling out a portion of your assets regularly over a period of time, rather than delivering the funds in one lump sum to your oldest child.

If your designated trustee declines the role, the court may assign a trustee; alternately, another trusted individual may volunteer to assume the responsibility.

Joint Will

A joint will is drafted so that all your assets go to your living spouse. Essentially, couples leave their property to each other. A joint will cannot be revised without the other spouse’s consent, meaning it is irrevocable once one spouse has passed.

Given the irrevocable nature of the joint will, attorneys advise against drafting such a document. The surviving spouse may live for several more years and eventually may face life circumstances that warrant a change in the terms of the joint will. For example, the living spouse may wish to allocate a portion of the assets to a grandchild for his college expenses; or, the survivor may desire to downsize and move into a smaller home. Unfortunately, alterations to the joint will cannot legally be made, since receiving approval from the deceased spouse is impossible.

Living Will

A living will involves your last wishes related to your medical care if you become too incapacitated to communicate. For instance, you may draft a living will that relays your wish to not be hooked up to feeding tubes or be resuscitated in the event you become unconscious.

A living will serves as your healthcare directive. In the document, you appoint an agent to carry out your decisions as outlined in the living will. The appointed healthcare agent cannot be the testator’s healthcare provider. According to Illinois law, two witnesses must sign the living will; these witnesses must be over 18 years old, should not be accountable for your healthcare costs and should not be legally permitted to your estate. As the testator, you are responsible for notifying your medical provider of the existence of the living will.

Unrecognized Wills

In the state of Illinois, two types of wills lack legal authority. The first of the two is the holographic will, which is handwritten by the testator and fails to bear the signatures of witnesses. Unless the will was written in another state that does not require witness signatures, the holographic will has no legal power in Illinois.

The second type of will that is unrecognized in Illinois is the nuncupative will. Such a will is spoken to witnesses, including in such scenarios as life and death emergencies, soldiers in war or persons in danger of facing imminent death, and by people who cannot immediately draft a written will. Illinois does not accept nuncupative wills under any condition, although some jurisdictions do.

Wills ensure that your final wishes are carried out as you intend. In order for a will to be accepted in a court of law, the document must be legally binding. One way to ensure your will is permissible in court is to create the form with the help of a will and trust attorney from the reputable law firm of Berry K. Tucker & Associates, Ltd.

Work with Berry K. Tucker & Associates, Ltd.Berry-K.-Tucker-Lawyer-Oak-Lawn-IL

The attorneys at Berry K. Tucker & Associates, Ltd. stay current on changing Illinois laws, ensuring your legal documents are properly executed and your family’s financial future is secure. Our lawyers take time to understand your unique financial situation and advise you appropriately. We are experienced in all forms of estate planning, from simple wills to trusts, like irrevocable trusts, charitable trusts, and living trusts, among many others.

Our exceptionally skilled estate planning lawyers from Berry K. Tucker & Associates, Ltd. serve the greater Oak Lawn, IL community with dedication and unparalleled expertise. Consultations are available for those interested in meeting with one of our will and trust attorneys.

Request a Consultation

To request an initial consultation with Berry K. Tucker & Associates, Ltd., give us a call at (708) 425-9530 or fill out a contact form. We look forward to working with you!

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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