Laurels

Best Estate Planning Attorneys
2022

The Best Estate Planning Attorneys
Here Are The Top Estate Planning Attorneys
Wilson & Wilson

Wilson & Wilson

A family owned firm, Wilson & Wilson holds three locations in Northbrook, Tinley Park, and LaGrange since being founded in 1983. Established by James T. Wilson (who is now deceased) and his son William S. Wilson, the company focuses on serving each client with committed and professional legal representation. They offer legal services for matters that include estate and asset protection planning, guardianship, fiduciary services, nursing home injury litigation, elder law and Medicaid planning, probate and estate administration, planning for families with special needs children, and more. They are a member of the National Academy of Elder Law Attorneys, a member of the Academy of Special Needs Planners, and a Five Star Professional in 2011 by Wealth Manager.

La Grange, IL 60525

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Website
Schottler & Associates

Schottler & Associates

Schottler & Associates is a team of estate planners based in Chicago. The lawyers at the company provide legal assistance in a variety of estate planning areas, including trusts, living wills, provisions for digital assets, and financial powers of attorney. Moreover, the team helps clients set up life estates such as bonds, and they also handle business ownership transfers, charitable donations, and funerary arrangements. Company attorney Mark Schottler has been a practicing lawyer since 1996.

North Riverside, IL 60546

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Website
Heeg Law Offices

Heeg Law Offices

Heeg Law Offices provides legal counsel to clients in Chicago and the surrounding metros. The firm helps individuals and married couples prepare adequate estate plans to protect their legacies and loved ones. It also represents clients in family law cases, criminal defense matters, and immigration hearings. Additionally, its lawyers resolve disputes concerning personal injury claims, real estate conflicts, and entertainment and intellectual property issues. Justin W. Heeg, the firm's principal, also holds an attorney's license in Tennessee.

Chicago, IL 60602

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Berger, Newmark & Fenchel P.C.

Berger, Newmark & Fenchel P.C.

Berger, Newmark & Fenchel P.C. focuses on serving each client with integrity and a tradition of service since being founded in 1919. Located in Chicago and assisting clients throughout the Midwest, their client list ranges from small family businesses to successful large companies. The company provides legal services for matters that include estate and trust planning, labor and employment law, commercial litigation, and more.

Chicago, IL 60639

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Golan Christie Taglia LLP

Golan Christie Taglia LLP

A Chicago-based law firm founded in 1993, Golan Christie Taglia LLP focuses on delivering high-quality services, successful results, and personalized service. Their client list includes nonprofit organizations, high net worth individuals, family businesses, and entrepreneurs. The company offers legal services for matters that include real estate taxation, estate planning and taxation, reorganization and bankruptcy, intellectual property, employment law, commercial real estate, entertainment law, mergers and acquisitions, and more. The firm is a member of Leading Lawyers, rated by SuperLawyers, hold a Martindale-Hubbell® AV Rating, and hold the Best Law Firms Award in 2016 by U.S. News for Best Lawyers.

Chicago, IL 60602

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Tomlinson Law Office, P.C.

Tomlinson Law Office, P.C.

Serving the Chicago area since 2010, Tomlinson Law Office, P.C. focuses on fully understanding each business to help each client with practical and aggressive legal strategies and advice at a reasonable price. The company offers legal services for matters that include estate and power of attorney, wills and trusts, general business legal advice, business entity formation and conversion, internal investigations, fiduciary duties, probate litigation, and more. The firm employs two main attorneys: Michael P. Tomlinson, who is a shareholder, and Michael Munley. They are rated by SuperLawyers and Michael holds a Leading Lawyer Award in 2016 by Emerging Lawyers.

Chicago, IL 60631

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Garofalo Law Group

Garofalo Law Group

Located in Chicago and founded in 2004, Garofalo Law Group focus on offering each client personal attention, preparation for each situation, innovative solutions and thinking, long-term relationships, and assistance in legal challenges. The company provides legal services for matters that include estate planning, professional licensing, business law, landlord and tenant rights, real estate, asset protection, elder law, and more. They are a member of SuperLawyers, Wealth Counsel, ElderCounsel, Advisors Forum and the Illinois State Bar Association.

Chicago, IL 60601

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Law Offices of Canalia & Clark, LLC

Law Offices of Canalia & Clark, LLC

A boutique law firm holding over 50 years of experience, Law Offices of Canalia & Clark, LLC assists clients in the Chicago Metropolitan and Northwest Indiana areas. Specializing in helping clients leave legacies, they focus on guiding each client through the legal process of protecting their unique interests for now and for the future. The company offers legal services for matters that include estate planning, business law, residential real estate transactions, and probate administration. They hold a Featured Attorney in Estate Planning rating by AVVO.

Lansing, IL 60438

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The Law Office of Cynthia Hayes Hutchins, P.C.

The Law Office of Cynthia Hayes Hutchins, P.C.

Founded in 1997, The Law Office of Cynthia Hayes Hutchins, P.C. holds over 25 years of experience representing clients in the Wheaton and surrounding areas. Owned by Principle Attorney, Cynthia Hayes Hutchins, the firm focuses on using knowledge and expertise to assist each client through the legal process with integrity and professionalism. The company offers legal services for matters that include estate planning, guardianship, elder law, probate and estate administration, and more. Cynthia is a member of the National Academy of Elder Law Attorneys, American Bar Association, Illinois State Bar Association, DuPage County Bar Association, and more.

Wheaton, IL 60187

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Peck Ritchey, LLC

Peck Ritchey, LLC

A boutique law firm founded in 1998, Peck Ritchey, LLC focuses on protecting each client and their loved ones both in and out of the courtroom for a peaceful home life. The company provides legal services for matters that include estate planning, special needs planning, Alzheimer's disease planning, guardianship litigation, probate and trust litigation, and more. They are a member of the Chicago Bar Association, a member of the Illinois Bar Association, a member of the ElderCareMatters® Alliance, hold an AVVO Rating for Experience and Industry Recognition for Professional Conduct, a member of the International Network of Boutique Law Firms, and are Peer Reviewed by the Leading Lawyers Network.

Chicago, IL 60603

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Website

Expert Answers To Common Questions:

  1. What does an estate planning attorney do?
  2. What are valuable estate planning services an attorney can provide?
  3. Can estate planning attorneys help create trusts/wills?
  4. Is estate planning the same as drafting a will?
  5. What are the steps involved in estate planning?
  6. How long does the estate planning process last?
  7. What is a trust?
  8. How does a trust fund work?
  9. How does a living trust work?
  10. Do I need a lawyer for a will?
  11. Can you have both a will and a living trust?
  12. How much does it cost to set up a trust?
Q: What does an estate planning attorney do?
A:
An estate consists of the total assets that form an individual’s net worth, no matter how large or small. Estate planning attorneys use their in-depth knowledge of state and federal laws to help people best manage what will happen with their estates after they die or become incapacitated. Estate planning attorneys can prepare wills, form trusts, reduce estate tax burdens, and decrease or eliminate the need for probate court.
Q: What are valuable estate planning services an attorney can provide?
A:

With the many intricacies of assets, taxes, and state and federal laws that can affect a person’s estate, an estate planning lawyer can be a valuable professional asset, no matter how large or small a person’s estate may be. An estate planning attorney can:

  • Create a comprehensive plan to protect a client's legacy, that includes a will, power of attorney, trusts, life insurance, and advanced medical directives
  • Optimize an estate plan as tax laws, life events, assets, and goals change over time
  • Protect a client’s loved ones by preventing assets from entering probate
  • Help clients designate a person to make important health decisions for them if they become incapacitated

Q: Can estate planning attorneys help create trusts/wills?
A:
Estate planning attorneys can create trusts and wills. Through a will, an attorney can help a client designate their estate’s beneficiaries and assign an executor to represent the will in probate court. These attorneys can also create trusts, allowing a client to assign a trustee to oversee the estate, potentially avoiding probate court and holding assets to be distributed over time.
Q: Is estate planning the same as drafting a will?
A:
While both estate plans and wills officially document how their owners wish to allocate certain assets after their death, there are key differences. In estate planning, a will is often just one of several documents that form a comprehensive plan. In a will, people must designate a person responsible for executing their will after their death. The will can include guardians for their children when they die and beneficiaries to receive an inheritance of money, property, and other assets.
Q: What are the steps involved in estate planning?
A:

To create a thorough and effective estate plan, individuals should follow these steps:

  • Prepare a will that designates an estate executor; indicate who will receive what assets, and assign a trust and guardians for any children. Consider using an attorney if the will is in any way complex.
  • To avoid probate, have an attorney create a revocable living trust.
  • Assign beneficiaries to other assets, such as life insurance policies, retirement plans, and securities.
  • Use an attorney to prepare a living will, name a health care proxy, and create a HIPAA release form.
  • Update the plan every five years.

Q: How long does the estate planning process last?
A:
The length of the process can vary greatly depending on the size and complexity of the estate, the specific law office, and whether there’s an emergency or urgent need. If you’re using an attorney, you can generally expect it to take one to five weeks. You may be able to speed up the process by immediately providing your attorney with any bank statements or other documents they need.
Q: What is a trust?
A:
A trust is an agreement between a grantor, a trustee, and a beneficiary. In this agreement, the grantor allocates funds or real property assets to the trustee to be held either until the grantor passes away or until a specific, agreed-upon date. At that point, it's the responsibility of the trustee to distribute funds or property to the beneficiary or beneficiaries. While there are similarities between a will and a trust, a will is a more comprehensive document that typically requires probate court, while a trust allows assets to pass to the beneficiary without probate.
Q: How does a trust fund work?
A:
When opening a trust fund, a grantor allocates a trustee to oversee and manage assets in the account. This trustee can sometimes be a relative, an estate lawyer, or a bank that acts as the legal owner of the trust. While holding assets, the trustee is required to file taxes on trust assets.
Q: How does a living trust work?
A:
A living trust enables a grantor to manage their assets through a trustee while still alive. They can continually add funds and/or property to their trust fund by transferring them to the trustee, who accepts ownership of everything held in the fund. The grantor can name a beneficiary for their trust, and their assets will be automatically transferred to that person or establishment upon their death.
Q: Do I need a lawyer for a will?
A:
No, a lawyer is not required to draft or complete a will. However, there are some scenarios in which hiring an estate lawyer to assist with a will is a good idea, including when children or high-value assets are involved. Additionally, an estate lawyer can help to reduce probate fees and taxes paid by loved ones after a person dies. It's also best to work with a professional to ensure that the will addresses everything necessary, such as funeral plans, guardianship, and asset distribution.
Q: Can you have both a will and a living trust?
A:
Yes, and individuals who have a living trust should also have a will. While a living trust enables a person to leave funds and assets to a loved one when they're gone, a will is required to cover any assets that aren't included in the trust, such as guardianship of dependents, funeral plans, and forgiveness of outstanding debts, if applicable.
Q: How much does it cost to set up a trust?
A:

The cost of setting up a trust varies quite a bit depending on a variety of factors, including terms that are in place, special provisions for minor beneficiaries, and trustees' basic fees. In most cases, the minimum cost of setting up a trust is about $1,500, but depending on the factors mentioned above, this cost can increase by thousands of dollars.