A gift through your will or trust is one of the simplest legacy gifts to arrange. However, you have several options for how to plan your bequest, so you do need to do some basic planning to be sure you choose the type of bequest that suits you best. Don't worry. We're here to help every step of the way!
Your bequest can be:
A certain dollar amount
An item of value or a piece of property
All or a percentage of the remainder of your estate after all debts costs and other bequests have been paid
Contingent upon the passing of another beneficiary who gets first priority
Designated to a specific purpose or program or unrestricted to be used where its needed most at the time
Who's that special person in your life that deserves to be recognized? You want to shout their name to the world but wonder how. Maybe they are living, or perhaps they've passed on. If you're looking for a meaningful way to honor them, consider making a tribute gift in your will or trust to the museum of the Art Institute of Chicago in that person's name.
Be sure you notify us of your gift. If you like, we will send a personalized notification of your gift (without saying the amount) to the person being honored or to his or her family and friends.
If you don't have a will in place, you're not alone. It's an intimidating subject for many people, perhaps because it forces us to acknowledge our mortality. But actually, a thoughtfully planned will is the closest you can come to achieving immortality because it gives you control in the most important areas of your life, like your family, your business, and the charities and causes you care about.
More than 50 percent of Americans die without a valid will. This is unfortunate in most cases, because state laws will take over and will distribute your probate estate in accordance to a prescribed formula, possibly in ways that you would not choose.
You've worked hard to achieve what you have—whether it's a little or a lot or somewhere in between—and you deserve the right to say what happens to it. A will gives you the control you deserve.
When you write your will, we hope you will consider including a gift to the museum of the Art Institute of Chicago. It's a simple and meaningful way you can support our mission for future generations.
Writing a will is one of the least expensive legal documents and usually straightforward. And the peace of mind you gain by knowing you have a valid will in place is well worth the attorney's fee.
Here are a couple free documents to help you get started:
One thing is certain as we go through life and that is change.
The circumstances of life change constantly. If you have taken steps to write a will, you can be certain that your circumstance and the makeup of your estate will change from time to time. It is important that you do not procrastinate to get your will amended or even rewritten as these changes in life occur. Here are some common events that should nudge you to change your will: marriage, divorce, a new baby, stepchildren, named heirs pass away, you move from a common-law property state to a community-law property state or vice versa, you dispose of or purchase significant assets, guardianship is no longer needed for your adult children, you change your mind about your bequests to heirs, you wish to add or change a charitable beneficiary.
Some states allow an individual to compose a will. If it is properly witnessed and signed, many Probate Courts will accept such a will.
However, most people have no idea how to get started with such a task. They wonder if they will adequately cover all the bases in a self-authored document.
A will is a very important legal document, and it is wise to employ the expertise of a qualified attorney. A will is one of the least expensive legal documents you would pay for, but a well-written document could save your heirs much more in dollars and hassle.
An executor or personal representative is the person you assign the responsibility to manage and distribute your estate in accordance with your will. An executor’s work will be monitored by the Probate Court. An executor does not need to be an expert in finances, probate law, or taxes. He or she can and should hire such experts that are needed for assistance. A good executor will be honest and organized, possess good common sense, and be willing to serve in this capacity. Most people will name their spouse or an adult child, or some other close heir. If possible, name someone who lives nearby and who is familiar with your financial matters. That will make it easier for the person to do chores like collecting mail, selling assets, and finding important records and papers.
Probate refers to the review or testing of a will before a court to ensure that the will is authentic and the estate is distributed properly. If there is no valid will, then the Probate Court will appoint an administrator of the estate to facilitate the estate's distribution in accordance with state law.
Probate can be expensive and time consuming, and a good estate plan minimizes the cost and time for your loved ones. Your non-probate assets are any assets in your estate that will pass to heirs or charities without involving Probate Court. Examples include jointly held property such as real estate, jointly held bank accounts, and beneficiary designations in a life insurance policy or qualified retirement plan. Additionally, some people title all their property to a living trust, and at death, the named trustee will distribute or manage assets in accordance with the trust document. The trust and assets possessed by the trust are not reviewed by the Probate Court. In states where probate fees are expensive, a living trust can save on those costs. Also, those who own property in another state may want to consider a living trust so that they do not have to deal with two Probate Courts.