Estate Planning

Estate Planning

What happens to my property when I pass away? How can I ensure my family receives what I want them to receive?

Tuggle & Lichtenberger can help answer any questions you may have, from will drafting to the administration of the estate of a loved one.
Whether you are looking for help drafting your will, creating Powers of Attorney, or forming a trust, Tuggle & Lichtenberger can manage all of your estate planning needs.We also assist with the administration of probate estates when a loved one has passed away. Contact Tuggle & Lichtenberger to handle all of your estate planning or probate administration needs today. You peace of mind is important to us.

Protect your Assets And Family with an Estate Plan Built for you

Frequently Asked Questions

If you pass away without a will, your estate is distributed based on the State of Illinois Intestacy laws. The following chart is an outline of how these laws change based on your family makeup upon death:


Family makeup upon deathWho receives what
Spouse and child(ren)Spouse receives ½ of your property; child(ren) receive remaining ½ 
Spouse and no child(ren)Spouse receives entire property
Child(ren) and no spouseChild(ren) receive entire property, split evenly between them
Parents and/or siblingsParents receive ½ of your property, siblings receive remaining ½ (if only one parent survives, they still receive ½) (if both parents have passed, siblings split full property evenly between them) (if sibling(s) have passed leaving children behind, their children will inherit their share of the property)
Grandparents or descendants of grandparents (i.e., your aunts and uncles)Your maternal grandparents receive ½, your paternal grandparents receive remaining ½ (if no surviving grandparents, aunts, or uncles on one side, the other side receives entire property)
Great grandparents or descendants of great grandparentsYour maternal great grandparents receive ½, your paternal great grandparents receive remaining ½ (if no surviving great grandparents, great aunts, or great uncles on one side, the other side receives entire property)
Remote familyEntire estate is provided in equal parts to the nearest kindred

  1. Understand what types of property you can transfer by will and those you cannot
    1. Types of property you can transfer: 
      1. real estate (residential, agricultural, commercial)
      2. Cash in hand, checking, or savings accounts
      3. Stocks and bonds


    2. Types of property you cannot transfer:
      1. Life Insurance
      2. Retirement funds, including 401k or pensions
      3. Bank accounts designated as “Payable on Death (POD)” or “Transfer on Death (TOD)”
      4. Assets held in trust


  2. Determine who you want to receive your property
    1. Have a backup plan in case the person you choose to receive your property passes before you do


  3. Special considerations if you have children under the age of 18
    1. Determine who you would like to receive custody of your children if something were to happen to yourself and the child’s other parent
    2. Choose a trustee who can manage property for the children until the age of 18


  4. Determine who you want to be the Executor of your estate. This is someone who is responsible to the court for transferring property to named beneficiaries pursuant to the will.
  1. Determine whether the deceased person had a will.
  2. If the deceased person has a will, read the will to determine who is the Executor
  3. Notify the Executor
  4. File the will with the circuit clerk of the county in which the deceased person lived. Keep a copy for the Executor or Attorney.
  5. Determine whether you need a probate attorney or not:
    1. Does the deceased person own real estate? 🡪 If so, need an attorney
    2. Does the deceased person own less than $100,000.00 in assets? 
    3. Are there any creditors that the deceased person owes money to?
    4. If the deceased person owns real estate, owns more than $100,000.00 in assets, or has outstanding creditors that need paid, you should contact a probate attorney.
    5. If the deceased person does not own real estate, owns less than $100,000.00 in assets, and has no unknown creditors, Executor can use a small estate affidavit to transfer property without opening a probate estate through the court system. This can be used whether or not the deceased person has a will.
      1. Note: known creditors should be paid first before using a small estate affidavit. Creditors may make claims against the estate up to two years after the date of death
  6. Contact us

A will is a signed document that transfers your property upon your death. A power of attorney provides someone you choose with certain powers over your affairs while you are still living. A power of attorney allows another person to control your financial or medical decisions. These powers can begin immediately upon signing or upon a triggering event (i.e., when a doctor determines you are incapable of making your own financial and medical decisions).

The State of Illinois has approved the following forms for power of attorney:

Power of Attorney for Property

Power of Attorney for Healthcare

Power of Attorney for Mental Health

Illinois Living Will Declaration

A small estate affidavit may only be used when the following criteria are met:

  1. The deceased person was a resident of Illinois upon their death;
  2. The deceased person did not own real estate, or they owned real estate that automatically passed to another upon the deceased person’s death;
  3. The deceased person owned less than $100,000.00 worth of assets;
  4. All of the creditors are known and will be paid; and
  5. There are no disputes between heirs and beneficiaries.


If the above criteria have been met, it may be possible to transfer property, other than real estate, to the decedent’s heirs. A small estate affidavit may be used with or without a will. You can find the small estate affidavit form on the Illinois Secretary of State website. Contact a probate attorney to ensure that you are using this form correctly.


IL SOS Small Estate Affidavit Form

Social Security benefits

First, it is important to understand what type of Social Security benefit you currently receive – either Social Security Disability Insurance Benefits (“DIB”) or Social Security Supplemental Security Income (“SSI”). Only SSI benefits are impacted by your assets. Therefore, if you receive DIB and will inherit assets or property from a deceased relative, there will be no impact on your benefits.

If, however, you receive only SSI benefits, your inheritance may impact your benefits and you should plan accordingly. You have a few options:

  1. Create a Special Needs Trust
  2. Create an ABLE account
  3. Spend the money on non-assets or non-resources as defined by Social Security (e.g., car repairs, home improvement, replace appliances or furniture, prepaid funeral expenses).


Government health insurance (Medicaid/Medicare)

  • As with SSI benefits, your Medicaid benefits may be impacted by the receipt of an inheritance. The asset limit for Medicaid is the same as SSI – $2,000.00. If your inheritance is over this asset amount, you should utilize one of the options enumerated above.
  • As with DIB, Medicare beneficiaries will not lose their benefits due to receipt of an inheritance. Your Medicare Part B premium amount may increase under certain circumstances, which lowers your net Social Security payment.
  • DON’T FORGET – No matter what type of government benefit you receive, you must report your inheritance to SSA, Medicaid, and/or Medicare. Contact a disability or estate planning attorney to ensure your benefits will not be impacted.