What Happens to an Illinois Estate When There is No Will?

Illinois estate, no will, DuPage County Estate Planning AttorneyDrawing up a will is something that most people know they should do. However, for one reason or another, many never get around to doing it. Moreover, when they die, it often leaves major legal issues for their loved ones to sort out.

When a person dies without a will, it is referred to as intestate. We hear story after story about families locked in major battles over a family member's estate, which often results in a manner that the deceased person would not have wanted. The only legal choice, however, is the one made by the court because there was no will.

This is the case with the estate of the late granddaughter of actor Morgan Freeman. Last August, the 33-year-old woman was stabbed to death. Her estate included a condo, worth approximately $800,000, that Freeman had purchased. When the young woman was murdered, she was not married, nor did she have any children or siblings. She also died intestate. According to New York law, where the young woman lived, her estate will go to her mother and father because she did not have a will.

However, according to an affidavit filed by Freeman in an attempt to bar the girl's father from inheriting anything, his granddaughter had only seen her father a handful of times in the past 30 years. Additionally, it is noted that the father had not contributed any financial support as the young woman was growing up, and was nothing more than a “deadbeat dad.”

If Freeman's granddaughter had lived in Illinois at the time of her murder, the same scenario would apply. When a person dies intestate, the rules in this state are as follows:

  • If the deceased had children but no spouse, the children will inherit the entire estate;
  • If the deceased had a spouse but no children, the spouse inherits the entire estate;
  • If the deceased had a spouse and children, the spouse inherits half of the estate and the children inherit the other half;
  • If the deceased had parents, but no spouse, children, or siblings, the parents inherit the entire estate;
  • If the deceased had siblings, but no spouse, children, or parents, the siblings inherit the entire estate; and
  • If the deceased had parents and siblings, the parents and siblings all inherit equal shares of the estate. If only one parent is living, however, then that parent inherits a double share.

The tragedy of the murder of Morgan Freeman's granddaughter is made more tragic because her family has to engage in a legal battle against her estranged father because there was no will. This case highlights that a person is never too young nor too old to have a will. If you need assistance with a will, contact an experienced DuPage County estate planning attorney today.




3 Common Questions and Concerns about Estate Planning

concerns about estate planning, estate planning concerns, estate planning questions, Illinois trusts and wills attorney, my estate plan, start estate planningEstate planning can be a highly involved process; however, it is an incredibly important financial step. While most people do not want to face the concept of securing assets before they die, estate planning helps ensure that family members do not suffer stress when it comes to dividing inheritance. If you are considering estate planning, you probably have several questions or concerns.

Is Estate Planning for Me?

One of the most common concerns for those interested in estate planning or writing a will is whether or not such preparations necessarily apply to them. Many believe, erroneously, that proper estate planning is only pertinent to the wealthy.

Estate planning is for everyone. It does not matter whether or not a person is wealthy. Anyone who has a desire to see their assets—extensive or not—go into the right hands after death should write a will and make all necessary legal arrangements.

According to Forbes, proper estate planning avoids the headache of having a state unnecessarily become involved after one’s death. The process also addresses other concerns such as arranging the funeral, establishing guardians for any minor children, and distributing inheritance.

When is the Best Time to Get Involved in Estate Planning?

Ideally, everyone who is legally allowed to own property should invest some time and money in estate planning. Many people wisely begin the process as early as age 18.

Since everyone’s case is unique, it is often very beneficial to consult an attorney about one’s personal assets and estate planning. Having a legal expert available to review a specific situation can help sort out any confusion.

What Should I Include in My Estate Plan?

Some people put off or avoid estate planning completely because they believe their finances and assets are not complex or elaborate enough. Many legal experts will agree: Most people are not completely aware of the intricacy of their own financial situation.

While various expected areas—property, stocks, bank accounts, etc.—are commonly thought of when it comes to financial planning, it is also important to consider digital or intangible assets. Even pets are an important part of a thorough estate plan.

Consult an Illinois Trusts and Wills Attorney

If you have questions or concerns about estate planning, and are interested in speaking with an Illinois trusts and wills attorney, consider Stock, Carlson, Flynn & McGrath, LLC. We are more than happy to sit down with you to discuss your plans and intentions for your assets. Call us today at 630-665-2500.

Is a Living Will Right for You?

advance directives, Illinois estate planning attorney, is a living will right for you, living will, medical careWhen making decisions about the future, one document that should be addressed by all adults is a living will. The Mayo Clinic defines a living will as “a written, legal document that spells out medical treatments you would and would not want to be used to keep you alive.”

With so many medical advances made over the last few decades, it is quite possible for a person to be kept alive for an extended period of time with the use of life-sustaining equipment, such as a ventilator for a person who is not able to breathe on his or her own.

Many people, however, often say they would not want to be kept alive under these circumstances because they feel their quality of life would be greatly compromised. Yet despite a person verbalizing these feelings at one time or another, if he or she does not have any advance directives in place, such as a living will, then these decisions would have to be made by family members.

Unfortunately, family members do not always agree with what is the best medical option. Therefore, an individual’s wishes, if not in writing, may not be followed. Another possible scenario is when two immediate family members (such as two adult children) disagree, and the decision of one’s future is then suddenly up to a judge because lawsuits have been filed. All this can be avoided with a simple living will.

Additionally, there are certain medical decisions you may need to make before you have an attorney draw up a living will. These include:

  • Deciding which life-sustaining treatment or choices you would want, which you would not want used, and how long should these treatments be used if your condition is not improving. These treatments include ventilation, feeding tubes, antibiotics and CPR;
  • Deciding what your feeling is about being given pain medication that provides relief of pain, but may also hasten death;
  • Deciding if artificial life support should be removed if you have been declared brain dead or should it stay in place until your heart actually stops beating; and
  • Deciding if you want your organs donated after you have passed.

Along with a living will, you may also want to consider having a power of attorney appointed in the event you are no longer capable of making important decisions about medical or financial issues. An experienced DuPage County estate planning attorney can help you through this process. Call 630-665-2500 today to schedule your consultation.