Wills, Trusts, & Estates




Luxury house exterior with double garage. — Legal Service in Chicago, IL
An estate is the totality of an individual's ownership of money, real and personal property. There are several types of estates that govern interests in real property. They are freehold estates, nonfreehold estates, concurrent estates, specialty estates, future interests, and incorporeal interests.

Setting up an estate can be very complex. It is very important to have qualified legal representation to help you through the process. With over 40 years of experience, the Women's Legal Services Center can help the process run smoothly. Contact us today to schedule an appointment with an experienced attorney.

Guardianship - Agents

Guardianship Book — Women's Legal Services in Chicago, IL
A guardianship is a legal relationship created when a person or institution named in a will or assigned by the court to take care of incompetent adults. Sometimes called a conservatorship. The term "guardian" may also refer to someone who is appointed to care for and/or handle the affairs of a person who is incompetent or incapable of administering his/her affairs. Guardians must not benefit at the expense of those they care for.

Guardianships for physically or mentally disabled or incapacitated persons have been understood to facilitate the independence and self-reliance of the ward. They are limited as much as is reasonable in order to allow wards to exercise as much control over their lives as possible while maintaining as much dignity and self-reliance as possible. The desires of the wards are given primary consideration. Also, wards are allowed to do as much of their own care giving as is physically and mentally possible. The guardian will be granted only those powers necessary to accomplish for the ward what the ward cannot accomplish independently. These powers may include assuring the availability and maintenance of care for the ward, making sure that educational and medical services are maintained and adequate, and submitting updates to the court of the ward's condition.

For help regarding a guardianship, contact the Women's Legal Services Center today to schedule an appointment with an experienced attorney.

Powers of Attorney

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A power of attorney is a written document in which one person (the principal) appoints another person to act as an agent on his or her behalf, thus conferring authority on the agent to perform certain acts or functions on behalf of the principal. Powers of attorney can be written to be either general (full) or limited to special circumstances.
There are two different types of powers of attorneys: health care and property.

A health care power of attorney and a living will are legal documents that provide you with options for expressing medical care preferences and instructions, should you become mentally incapacitated or otherwise unable to make or communicate decisions. It allows you to grant a trusted person, known as an agent, the authority to make medical and end-of-life care decisions on your behalf.

A power of attorney for property is a written document in which you give someone the power to make decisions about your property and finances if you become unable to make these decisions yourself. This "attorney" could be responsible for taking care of your banking matters, managing your investments, running your business, buying and selling real estate on your behalf, or paying your monthly bills. The only thing that you could not appoint an attorney to do is to write your Will.

If you are in need of one of these powers of attorney, contact the Women's Legal Services Center today to schedule an appointment with an experienced attorney.


Blue ballpoint pen and a last will and testament. — Legal Service in Chicago, IL
Probate is the process of proving a will is valid and thereafter administering the estate of a dead person according to the terms of the will. It is a judicial act or determination of a court having competent jurisdiction establishing the validity of a will.

Probate is a general term for the entire process of administration of estates of dead persons, including those without wills, with court supervision. The initial step in the process is proving a will is valid and then administering the estate of a dead person according to the terms of the will. The will must be filed with the clerk of the appropriate court in the county where the deceased person lived, along with a petition to have the court approve the will and appoint the executor named in the will. If an executor is not named in the will, an administrator is appointed. A declaration of a person who had signed the will as a witness is also filed. If the court determines the will is valid, the court then "admits" the will to probate.

Even if there is a will, probate may not be necessary if the estate is worth no more than a stated dollar value or is small with no real estate title to be transferred or all of the estate is either jointly owned or community property.
The process can be very complex. To meet with an experienced attorney, contact the Women's Legal Services Center today and set up an appointment.


Senior woman meeting with agent — Legal Service in Chicago, IL
A trust is created by a settlor, who transfers title to some or all of his or her property to a trustee, who then holds title to that property in trust for the benefit of the beneficiaries. Individuals may control the distribution of their property during their lives or after their deaths through the use of a trust.

There are many types of trusts and many purposes for their creation. A trust may be created for the financial benefit of the person creating the trust, a surviving spouse or minor children, or a charitable purpose. Though a variety of trusts are permitted by law, trust arrangements that are attempts to evade creditors or lawful responsibilities will be declared void by the courts.

The law of trusts is often very complicated, but generally it is concerned with whether a trust has been created, whether it is a public or private trust, whether it is legal, and whether the trustee has lawfully managed the trust and trust property. It is important to have qualified legal representation when creating a trust to ensure that everything it set up correctly and it functions the way it is supposed to.

If you are looking to create a trust, or have any questions regarding an already existing trust, contact Women's Legal Services Center today to set up an appointment with an experienced attorney.


Last Will & Testament — Legal Service in Chicago, IL
A will is the legal instrument that permits a person, the testator, to make decisions on how his estate will be managed and distributed after his death. If a person does not leave a will, or the will is declared invalid, the person will have died intestate, resulting in the distribution of the estate according to the laws of Descent and Distribution of the state in which the person resided. It enables a person to select his beneficiaries rather than allowing the state laws of descent and distribution to choose the heirs.

A will allows a person to decide which individual could best serve as the executor of his estate, distributing the property fairly to the beneficiaries while protecting their interests, rather than allowing a court to appoint a stranger to serve as administrator. A will also safeguards a person's right to select an individual to serve as guardian to raise his young children in the event of his death.

To draft a will, contact the Women's Legal Services Center today. A will is relatively inexpensive to do and gives you good protection.