All posts by Janet Sullivan

Transitions and Change

Around here, the weather is in transition and it is fighting the transition. We have been having true autumn-like weather and then suddenly for a few days summer is back. Eventually the summer-like days will disappear and it will be  autumn.

Life is like that as well. Transitions and change do not come easily but they eventually come. Children grow up and start families of their own. We watch our parents age and try to find ways to help that promote independence yet maintain safety.

Has your estate plan kept up with the changes? Are you now planning care for your parents or making more and more decisions for them?

Fall is a good time to take a look at how your life has changed and how it is changing. It is also a good time to schedule a consultation to discuss these changes, their impact on your estate plan, and how to navigate any new or changing roles you find yourself in.

New Mailing Address

We have changed our mailing address.  Please direct all regular mail to:

The Law Office of Janet L. Sullivan

757 Dupage Blvd. #2290

Glen Ellyn, IL  60138.

We will continue to meet with clients at 2100 Manchester, Wheaton, Illinois.

Who Gets Grandma’s Recipe Collection?

When you completed your estate plan, did you provide for the disposition of your personal property-the bits and pieces of your life?

Some estate plans  simply provide that your heirs get to decide who- gets-what of the bits and pieces of your life after your death. By leaving it up to your heirs to decide you may be setting the stage for discord to arise among your heirs-“but mom said this was mine…, dad always said this is for me”. Is this really the legacy you want to leave?

The simplest way of course is to give the item to the individual before you die. If, however, you do not want to do this, there are options available to direct gifts to specific individuals as part of your estate plan.

If you have a trust.  If you have a trust, your trust document may provide  that you can leave a list of which item goes to whom. The trust may also provide that the list can be updated as time goes on. The key of course is that you make the list and that the trustee can  easily find the list after your death. Not every item needs to be on the list, just those items that you have decided must go to a particular person.

If you have a will.  If you want a particular item to go to a particular person you should provide for  it within the will document and not on a separate list. If the executor finds a  list that is not part of the will itself, he/she may follow your directions but is not required to do so.  If you are trying to prevent heirs from fighting over the bits and pieces, the better option is to include the list within the will document itself.  Any changes to a list included within a will is a change to the will itself, and must follow the legal requirements applicable to changes to a will.

If you want to choose the person  that inherits grandma’s recipe collection, communicate that choice  in your estate plan documents.


Beware of Medicare Scams

New Medicare cards are now being issued to Medicare recipients.  This will continue until April 2019.  The new cards are free. The new Medicare cards will no longer carry the participant’s Social Security number. If someone calls offering to obtain a new card for you for a fee- IT IS A SCAM!

Will your Grandchildren inherit?

You filled out your retirement account beneficiary forms and have kept them up to date. You named your children as your death beneficiary. But who receives any remaining retirement funds if your child dies before all the funds are paid out? If you assume your grandchildren, you are making an incorrect assumption. If you want your grandchildren to inherit, more estate planning is needed than filling out beneficiary forms and keeping them up to date.

Contact me for a consultation and we can discuss  the options available for your hard earned retirement  savings.

Avoidable Out-of-Pocket Expenses And Medicaid

There are expenses that can and should be incurred before a Medicaid application is filed.The person at the nursing home who is assisting you with the application may or may not tell you about them. If the expenses are not paid before the application is filed, the expenses may come out of your own pocket after it is filed.

Waiting too long to talk to an attorney knowledgeable about the Medicaid rules, can end up costing you more than the consultation.

Dust Off Your Estate Plan

Even though it may still snow.  Spring is here and with it spring cleaning. While you are cleaning the cobwebs out of the corners take the time to clean the cobwebs off of  your trust or will.

Lives change, relationships change, new concerns arise,  goals are developing and being refined, are your estate plan documents keeping up?

Time for a spring time review of your estate plan.


Income tax and Estate Planning

By now you have heard something about the changes to the tax law.  For most people federal estate tax will not be an issue although state estate tax may still be relevant. Income taxes, however, are relevant.

Navigating these changes can be tricky.  If you have an estate plan in place,  the plan and your goals should be reviewed and discussed in light of the changes to the income tax.  If you do not have an estate plan, it is time to put one in place.


Caring for aging parents or a spouse with a chronic illness?

Caring for aging parents or a spouse with a chronic illness is challenging, and those challenges are not always legal in nature.  In my elder law practice I assist families and caregivers with finding resources that can assist them in this journey. Just the other week I was talking with a friend about her concerns as she was about to leave on a business trip.  She is the primary caregiver for her parents who still live in their own home- stopping by to make their meals, take them to doctor’s appointments and the occasional emergency room visit. We discussed several ways for her to make sure that while she was gone, her parent’s  sometimes unpredictable needs would be met. The conversation was a little too late for that trip (she was leaving the next day) but we will talk more after she gets back and before she leaves on her next business trip.


Life Planning Not Estate Planning

Estate Planning focuses on what to do with the stuff  after a person dies.  Life Planning is a more descriptive term. Life Planning takes into account the different stages of life from child-rearing to retirement.  Our goals during those different stages of life change as well and plans can evolve and change. It is never too early to plan, but it can be too late.