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How Do Trusts Work?

Posted on in Estate Planning / Probate

Kane County estate planning attorneyMore and more people are choosing trusts in place of or in addition to traditional wills. There are quite a few advantages to using trusts. Your beneficiaries will probably not need to go through probate before they can receive their gifts. You can gradually distribute money over time instead of handing your beneficiaries a lump sum, providing long-term financial benefits. Trusts can also help you keep everything private, as no one but your beneficiaries and trustee should be able to even see your trust document. Trust administration is usually less costly than probate as well.

However, there is still quite a bit of confusion about how trusts actually work. There is still a misconception that trusts are mainly for the very wealthy, when in fact, almost everyone could benefit from having a trust as part of their estate plan. If you are interested in learning how a trust could benefit you and your beneficiaries, you should contact an estate planning lawyer for more information. 

Forming a Trust

Forming a trust is not nearly as complicated as many believe. It essentially boils down to executing a document that sets up a trust as its own legal entity. You then “fund” the trust by placing property in it. This is largely a legal fiction. Most people name themselves as their own trustee and lifetime beneficiary, so even after you move your property into your trust, you retain complete control over it. While technically, your trust now owns anything you put into it, as both trustee and beneficiary, you are free to do whatever you please with anything you have placed in your own trust. 


Geneva real estate lawyerThe decision to buy a home is a big one. Purchasing, rather than renting, is a long-term investment. There are quite a few advantages to buying a home, but there is also some risk involved. The residential real estate market is fast-paced and competitive at the moment. It can be difficult to do a thorough investigation and “jump on” a place quickly enough. Before you pull the trigger on a place and sign a potentially decades-long mortgage agreement, there are a few questions you should find the answers to. It is best to have an attorney helping you to make sure that you have all the pertinent information and fully understand what you are signing at closing. Failing to make sure you have the right information could lead to unpleasant surprises down the road. 

Answers You Need Before You Buy a House

If this is your first time buying a house, you may not be familiar with all the terminology used in real estate. Even experienced homebuyers may have difficulty understanding every clause in the documents they will be asked to sign at closing. This is another reason that you should involve an attorney in a home purchase - you will know exactly what everything you are signing really means. 

Some questions you should have answers to before buying include: 


Geneva estate planning attorney Estate planning means more than just writing your will. While a good estate plan may certainly include a will, there is a lot more to it than that. Testamentary planning - deciding what should happen to your property after you pass away - is an important part of estate planning. When most people think of estate planning, they are really thinking only about testamentary planning. Incapacity planning is an equally important part of estate planning.

Incapacity planning allows you to prepare for the possibility that you could become incapacitated in your own lifetime as is common in old age. No estate plan is complete until both parts have been thoroughly addressed. The exact types of documents you will need to accomplish both goals depends on your own personal situation and preferences. It is best to work with a qualified attorney to develop a complete estate plan. 

What is Testamentary Planning?

Testamentary planning is the part of estate planning where you decide how your property should be distributed after you pass on. It is important to do this even if it is emotionally challenging. If you pass away without having a testamentary plan, state law determines who gets what and your family will have to go through the notoriously difficult intestate probate process. 


Geneva trusts attorneyEstate planning is full of choices. Completing the process can give you control over how your property will be distributed after you are gone, as well as control over some of your own end-of-life decisions. Once you have decided to use a trust rather than a will as your primary testamentary tool, you still have quite a few decisions to make. Trusts can be revocable or irrevocable, and there are even more subcategories. You also get to set most of the terms of your own trust - these are highly customizable legal instruments. 

Your best bet is to talk with an estate planning attorney who is highly knowledgeable about the different types of trusts and how they can be written. After you explain your goals and give some information about your beneficiaries, your lawyer will be able to guide your decision from there. 

Factors to Consider in Choosing a Type of Trust

You have quite a few things to consider when you go to create a trust. Be prepared for your lawyer to ask a lot of questions, some of which can be a bit personal. However, it is important that you answer openly so that your attorney knows what concerns to factor in when designing a trust for you. Things to think about include:


Geneva landlord eviction attorneyYou probably do not want to have to evict a tenant. The eviction process is rarely quick or simple. Generally, formal eviction proceedings are a last resort when a problem tenant refuses to leave on their own. As a landlord, you may face situations where you have little choice but to evict a tenant who is refusing to pay, destroying your property, or engaging in criminal activity. When these situations arise, it can be tremendously helpful to have an attorney who is experienced with eviction proceedings representing you. Renters have a lot of legal protections in Illinois, but there are still valid reasons for evicting a tenant that the courts will typically honor.

What Are Some Legal Reasons for Evicting a Tenant?

The most common reason people get evicted is for nonpayment. However, there are good legal reasons to evict even a tenant who is up to date on rent. Grounds for eviction in Illinois include:

  • Damages - Destructive tenants can create extremely costly damages very quickly. Whether they are intentionally causing damages, such as by punching holes in the wall, or passively allowing damages, such as by failing to clean up after a pet, a tenant can be evicted for damaging the rental property.
  • Illegal use - If your tenant is using your property for an illegal purpose, you can most likely have them evicted. Common illegal uses of rental housing include prostitution and selling or manufacturing drugs.
  • Nuisance - For those who own multi-family buildings, situations may arise where one tenant is a nuisance to the others. Repeated noise violations, harassment, or intimidating behavior by one renter can create an environment that is unsafe or otherwise difficult for others to live in. The disruptive tenant may need to be evicted.
  • Nonpayment - You may not want to evict a tenant who is struggling financially and unable to pay rent, but at a certain point, it may become necessary. If your tenant is merely irresponsible or refusing to pay for a nonsense reason, evicting them may come as a relief.

There are also reasons for which you explicitly cannot evict someone. For example, you cannot evict a tenant for making a valid complaint about the property or based on their familial status or membership in a protected class. Victims of domestic violence may have additional protections in some cases, even if nonpayment or noise complaints were a problem. It is best to speak with a qualified attorney before attempting to evict a tenant.

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