estate planningEstate planning isn’t a cut and dried, one size fits all process. If you have standard assets, such as retirement accounts and a house, alongside a typical marriage with adult, grown children, it can be easy to divide everything up evenly so that your assets are taken care of. However, if you have unique situations, such as you’re married to a non-citizen, you don’t have a child or spouse to leave your estate to, or you want to leave a disproportionate amount to one child, here’s how you can ensure your plan is complete.

Help With A Non-Citizen Spouse

If your spouse isn’t a United States citizen, you can typically proceed with the planning process in the same way. Citizen spouses are shielded from federal estate taxes when one of them dies, but the same isn’t true for non-citizens who stand to inherit a large sum of money. In 2014, non-citizen spouses can receive up to $5.34 million in inheritance funds without being subjected to federal estate taxes. Any amount over that is taxed.

However, if your estate is quite large and you are married to a non-citizen, there are a few things you can do to reduce this tax liability. The non-citizen can apply for citizenship, but the process must be completed before the spouse’s death. Or, the spouse can give cash gifts to the non-citizen each year to minimize tax liabilities. In 2014, this number is $145,000 a year.

Help If You Don’t Have A Child Or Spouse

Many single and unmarried people think they don’t need help from estate attorneys in Chicago, however this isn’t true at all. While single, childless people don’t need to protect anyone, they do need to appoint someone to make medical decisions if they’re unable to make decisions themselves. Without these documents, you’ll need to rely on your parents or siblings and you can lose precious time if they live out of town and can’t get to the hospital in time.

Help If You Need To Leave A Disproportionate Amount To One Child

Most estate attorneys in Chicago recommend leaving the same amount to each child, however, there are a few instances in which you may need to leave a disproportionate amount to one child. Perhaps this child requires special medical treatments or is unable to live on his or her own. Without a definitive plan, your assets will be divided equally, which won’t be what you want. If you do plan on leaving differing amounts to different children, it’s important that you let them know about this before your death. Otherwise, this could cause problems and fighting after you’re gone.

Everyone should have an estate plan in place, but if you have a unique situation, you definitely need one sooner than later.

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