Our Practice Areas

We have always limited our practice to five different but complimentary areas: (1) Estate Planning; (2) Trust Administration during any period in which a Trustmaker is incapacitated; (3) Trust Administration after a Trustmaker’s death; (4) Probate Administration after a Decedent’s death; and (5) Real Estate when held in a Trust or Estate.

In each practice area, we provide our clients with counseling based upon our experience of 40+ years.

1) Estate Planning

We assist potential and existing clients in … read more

  • identifying and prioritizing their goals,
  • identifying ways to overcome any concerns they have,
  • preparing, and supervising the signing of, appropriate estate planning documents, and
  • completing the necessary funding of their Death Benefit Assets, and All Other Assets.

2) Trust Administration During a Trustmaker’s Incapacity

During any period in which the Trustmaker is incapacitated, we assist the successor Trustee named in the Trustmaker’s Living Trust Agreement in … read more

understanding what the duties and responsibilities of a successor Trustee will be, and then deciding whether to accept the nomination to act as successor Trustee.

IF the successor Trustee accepts the nomination to act, we then assist the successor Trustee in …

  • administering the Trust assets pursuant to the instructions provided in the Living Trust,
  • paying the bills and expenses of the incapacitated Trustmaker, and, if the Living Trust Agreement so provides, also paying the bills and other expenses of the Trustmaker’s spouse, partner and any other beneficiaries,
  • coordinating all actions with the Agent named in any Power of Attorney for Property that the Trustmaker may also have signed.

3) Trust Administration After a Trustmaker’s Death

After a Trustmaker’s death, we assist the successor Trustee named in the Trustmaker’s Living Trust Agreement in … read more

understanding what the duties and responsibilities of a successor Trustee will be, and then deciding whether to accept the nomination to act as successor Trustee.

IF the successor Trustee accepts the nomination to act, we then assist the successor Trustee in

  • obtaining a new taxpayer identification number for the Living Trust, and then retitling all Trust assets into the name of the successor Trustee,
  • collecting and retitling all assets that are not titled in the Living Trust, which may mean utilizing a Small Estate Affidavit,
  • working with the Executor or Administrator of any probate Estate to coordinate the administration of the Living Trust and the probate Estate, particularly if the Trustmaker has also signed a Pour-Over Will,
  • collecting all assets, such as life insurance proceeds, that may be payable to the Living Trust,
  • valuing all Trust assets as of the Trustmaker’s date of death,
  • paying all of the applicable debts, taxes and expenses that are properly payable,
  • selling all real estate held in the Living Trust that may need to be sold,
  • coordinating the filing of the Decedent’s final Federal and Illinois Personal Income Tax returns,
  • preparing and filing all necessary Federal and Illinois Fiduciary Income Tax returns,
  • preparing and filing all necessary Federal and Illinois Estate Tax returns,
  • following the Living Trust’s instructions as to how all remaining Trust assets are to be distributed, managed or otherwise disposed of.

4) Probate Administration After a Decedent’s Death

If it is necessary to open a formal probate estate for a Decedent, then we assist the Executor or Administrator in … read more

understanding what his or her duties and responsibilities will be, and then deciding whether to accept the nomination to act as Executor, or to agree to be appointed as Administrator.

IF the nomination to act as Executor is accepted, or the appointment as Administrator is agreed to, we then assist the Executor or Administrator in

  • obtaining a new taxpayer identification number for the Estate,
  • preparing all documents necessary to open a formal probate Estate, and then presenting such documents to the Probate Court so that the probate Estate may be officially opened, and the Executor or Administrator officially appointed,
  • notifying all potential beneficiaries and heirs that the probate Estate has been officially opened,
  • taking the steps necessary to cause the required notice to potential creditors to be published,
  • collecting all solely-owned property and assets owned by the decedent, and retitling them into the name of the Executor or Administrator,
  • valuing all probate, and any non-probate, assets as of the decedent’s date of death,
  • paying all of the applicable debts, taxes, fees, and expenses that are properly payable,
  • selling any real estate held in the probate Estate that may need to be sold,
  • coordinating the filing of the Decedent’s final Federal and Illinois Personal Income Tax returns,
  • preparing and filing all necessary Federal and Illinois Fiduciary Income Tax returns,
  • preparing and filing all necessary Federal and Illinois Estate Tax returns,
  • preparing all documents necessary to close the probate Estate, and then presenting such documents to the Probate Court so that the probate Estate may be officially closed, and the Executor or Administrator officially discharged, and
  • following the Will’s instructions as to how all remaining probate assets are to be distributed, managed or otherwise disposed of, or, if there is no valid Will, following the provisions of the Illinois Statute of Descent and Distribution as to how all remaining probate assets are to be distributed to the heirs.

5) Real Estate

Whenever real estate that is held in a Trust or an Estate needs to be sold, and regardless of whether the Trustmaker is alive and competent, incapacitated, or deceased, we assist ... read more

the Trustee, successor Trustee, Executor or Administrator with the following:

  • negotiating and signing a Listing Agreement with any real estate brokerage firm that is to be utilized,
  • negotiating and signing a Real Estate Contract with a prospective Buyer,
  • responding to any inspection issues and legal issues raised by the Buyer’s attorney,
  • ordering the necessary title commitment, and any required survey,
  • dealing with any title objections that may need to be cleared,
  • ordering a payoff letter for any mortgage, home equity loan or other lien that may encumber the real estate,
  • preparing the applicable Trustee’s, successor Trustee’s, Executor’s or Administrator’s Deed, and all other documents necessary to complete the sale,
  • explaining all such documents to the Trustee, successor Trustee, Executor or Administrator, and then supervising the signing of such documents,
  • attending the Closing, and
  • ensuring that the net sales proceeds are properly deposited into an account titled in the name of the Trustee, successor Trustee, Executor or Administrator.

Becoming a Client

For more information about how we can assist you, we welcome you to contact us or read further about …

Meet Our Team

Joseph C. Johnson's Profile Image
Joseph C. Johnson is the founder of Joseph C. Johnson, P.C., and is also a co-founder and Fellow of EPICOR, an estate planning and wealth strategies collaborative. He is a member of the Illinois State Bar Association and of the Chicago Estate Plannin… Read More
Patricia L. Smith's Profile Image
Patricia L. Smith joined Joseph C. Johnson, P.C. in 2016. To say that Trish is immersed in all aspects of our practice would be an understatement. She meets with Trust and Estate clients, drafts and implements estate planning documents, opens, admini… Read More
Ann Place's Profile Image
When you call our office, you will most likely first speak with Ann Place. Ann’s workdays are varied and busy. She is our Estate Planning and Real Estate Paralegal, Legal Assistant, Office Manager and Director of First Impressions. Ann is also in c… Read More