Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Oak Lawn Estate Planning | Not Planning May Now Cost You More

There is a new law in the Illinois Legislature that is a cause for great concern. Currently, It is entitled Senate Bill 2894. This bill, if passed, will raise the costs of opening a probate in the state of Illinois. Currently, there is an identical bill  in the house, House Bill 4985. This is just one more way the bankrupt Illinois government is taking money without getting a lot of "guff" about it. Dead people don't do a lot of complaining. Their heirs may complain, but most think of anything they receive from the estate as a windfall; this way they don't mind that they get a few hundred dollars less in their inheritance. The claim is that the money from these fees will go to the Guardianship and Advocacy Commission. This is a state agency though. Why is this agency not simply being funded by our regular taxes? The answer is that the agency is funded by our regular taxes. The government simply want to slate those taxes to their own pork projects and ave this agency solely funded by additional fees.

What does this do to those who have to pay the fee. People will simply not probate their relatives estates. This is not the incentive that you want to create. Large estates will not care about this fee, but the smaller estates will choose to avoid doing the right thing. This is a horrible policy for the legislature to implement and should be voted down with little thought.

How big is this Commission? All we can go on is the 2008 report, because nothing newer has been posted on their webpage. In 2008, $8,868,700 were slated to the commission. According to their report, $9,218,360 was spent by the commission. Why worry though, this was only a 4% overage. We know what Illinois legislature intends to do about it. This is not to say that the commission does not do good things for the community. Their expenses are simply not needed for many of the things they do.

Lets break down how they summarize their services. The Guardianship and Advocacy Commission states  that they they handled 5,377 inquiries through its intake unit. If we estimate 250 work days a year, and we figure out how many inquires this means daily, it averages to about 21.5 inquires a day. Let us pretend  that there are two workers on this task. This is only 11 questions a day per worker. Assume that each worker makes $60,000.00 per year. This $120,000.00 is almost nothing for one of the four major things this agency does. The commission lists four bullet points to summarize their work. These questions sum up one of the bullet points. Certainly, this bullet point did not take up all the money expended.

The Guardianship and Advocacy Commission served as guardian for 4,964 wards for the year. They claim to have visited wards 17,882 times throughout the year. Even if they charged $300.00 per visit, this only adds up to $5,364,600. This allows for one hour travel time each way and a one hour visit at $100.00 an hour. Keep in mind, many of their visits are done by volunteers, so these visit only cost the training of the volunteer.

Finally, the Guardianship and Advocacy Commission states that they had 7,225 court appointed clients. If we use up the remaining money that they are slotted, this leaves two and a half hours of legal time for each client they serve. The Guardianship and Advocacy Commission also claims that their attorneys help with social security applications as well. This is completely unnecessary  because traditional attorneys help applicants with these applications for no up front costs. They get paid a portion of the benefits if their win the application. Why have taxpayer dollars go to this process?

There is no doubt that this agency does some good work, but strapping on another cost to probate clients to feed another governmental machine is not the answer. The Illinois legislature needs to stop taxing people to keep their large agencies feed.

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