When to Consider Contesting a Will

contest, Wheaton estate planning attorneyIf you have recently experienced the death of a loved one, it is understandable that you may have needed some time for things to get back to normal, especially if you had a close relationship with the person who died. Unfortunately, when the person’s will is presented for probate, there is the possibility of new problems. What happens, for example, if you discover that your loved one has made some unexpected changes or decisions regarding his or her will? In such a situation, you may have the option of contesting the will, but there are some considerations to address before you file.

Disagreement Is Not Enough

Perhaps the most important thing to remember is that in any situation involving a will or the transfer of a decedent’s assets, it is practically guaranteed that someone will feel slighted or left out altogether. That someone may have expected to receive a particular part of the deceased person’s estate only to learn that the expectations were never written into the will. While you might be disappointed or hurt by how your loved one decided to distribute his or her property, hurt feelings are not grounds for contesting a will.

Grounds for a Will Contest

Under the law in Illinois, there are several situations in which challenging a will would be appropriate. These include:

  • The will was not executed properly: In Illinois, two separate people must witness the signing of the will. Named beneficiaries cannot be witnesses;
  • Lack of testamentary capacity: If your loved one was not of sound mind or otherwise did not understand the terms and implications of his or her decisions, the will could be invalidated;
  • Undue influence: Estate planning decisions are extremely personal and should be made voluntarily. If another person—including a family member or caregiver—pressured or coerced your loved one into making changes or writing a new will, the resulting document could be set aside by the court;
  • Fraud: During the process of estate planning, there are often many documents that must be signed and executed, many of which are prepared by another person. If your loved one, for example, signed the will believing it to be a different document—such as a medical directive—the court could decide that the will was procured through fraud.

In order for your will contest to be successful, you will need to prove your allegations. Doing so can be extremely difficult, but it may the only way for you to ensure that your loved one’s estate is handled as he or she intended.

Call a Wheaton Will Contest Attorney

Filing a will contest can have a dramatic effect on your family dynamics, so it is not a decision to made lightly. Before you take action, contact a DuPage County estate planning lawyer at Stock, Carlson, Oldfield & McGrath LLC today. Call 630-665-2500 for a confidential consultation, and get the help you need.





Finding Ways to Save for Retirement

ways to save for retirement, DuPage County Estate Planning AttorneyAccording to the several financial studies, between 40 to 60 percent of Americans live paycheck to paycheck, meaning that they earn just enough to get by. For many, the thought of an early retirement—or any retirement—is not a current achievable goal because there are no funds left over each week to put into retirement savings.

Financial advisors have discovered ways that can free debt committed paycheck funds and can therefore be redirected into a retirement savings nest egg. For example, only one in three households in this country prepare and follow a monthly budget as a way to track their spending. This can lead to a lot of wasteful spending. By following the trail of where those paycheck funds go, you may be surprised at how much is actually coming in and going out.  

Families can also take a look at eliminating expenses that may be unnecessary and divert those funds into savings. Some of the biggest potential expenses include cable and satellite television packages. How many of those 450 channels does your family actually watch? If your family is also big take-out consumers, consider cooking more meals at home. There is often a large price difference in the per plate cost for a meal you prepare compared to the per plate cost of that meal from a restaurant. Magazine subscriptions and gym memberships are also areas that may be able to be cut or downsized.

Although several purchased items are necessary—such as groceries—there are ways to cut down how much you are spending each month. Check grocery store sale flyers and stock up on the items you frequently use. Compare buying items in bulk as opposed to single packages. Make a list before you go shopping and stick to it, resisting those impulse buys.

When it comes to the vehicle you drive, eliminating a car payment can free up on the average $450 per month. Once your vehicle is paid off, resist the urge to go out and buy a new and "better" model. Take the amount you would have spent on a new vehicle payment and instead deposit it in a retirement account. Also, shop around for the best prices on car insurance each year.

If you receive a pay raise, instead of incorporating those funds into your household budget, put them into your retirement account instead. Do the same for any unexpected funds, such as a tax refund or job bonus.

Following these tips can begin the process of retirement planning. Additionally, make plans to contact an experienced DuPage County estate planning attorney to discuss other areas that you should address, such as wills, guardians or trusts. Call Stock, Carlson, Oldfield & McGrath LLC at 630-665-2500 to schedule your consultation today.



Choosing a Legal Guardian: One of the Most Important Decisions a Parent Makes

choosing a legal guardian, DuPage County Estate Planning AttorneyMaking legal plans to ensure that your family is taken care of in the event of your death is not an easy subject to consider. It can be even more difficult for those who are parents of young children.

Although none of us want to think that we will not live long enough to see our children grow up into adulthood and have children of their own, the sad fact is that many parents pass away when their children are still minors. Therefore, it is important to have these plans in place, including who would be the legal guardian to your child in the event both of his or her parents die. If you do not make the decision while you are still alive, the state will make that decision when you are gone.

Often, when parents are having the discussion over who should be the legal guardian of their child, they disagree. The father may want a relative from his side of the family, while the mother may think one of her relatives would be the best choice. However, there are certain questions that parents can ask themselves as they make their list of the pluses and minuses for each of their choices.

One of the first questions to look at is just how close is your child to the person you want to be his or her guardian. Is your child comfortable with this person and do they have history together? The closer the person you are considering is to your child, the easier a difficult transition will be.

Another item to look at is whether or not the person you are considering shares the same values that you do. Will this person raise your child in the same environment—morally, religiously, politically—that you would have provided if you were still alive?

If the potential guardian has children of his or her own, you will also want to look at his or her parenting style and whether or not it is like your own. Do you feel he or she is overly strict, or maybe he or she is overly permissive with their child? How involved is he or she in their own child's life and will there be room for your own child in their home?

The age of the potential guardian also is something that needs to be considered, as well as their health. This is especially true if you are considering your parents as the guardian. Raising a child is a lot of work and demands a lot of time. Is your parent up to it? Additionally, if there are health issues, what will happen to your child if your parent dies or becomes incapacitated?

Where the potential guardian lives is also something to weigh. Does he or she live in the same town or will your child be required to move away from his or her home, friends, school, and other activities? This may not matter as much with younger children, but can be devastating to a teenager, especially one who is also dealing with the loss of his or her parent or parents.

Choosing a guardian is difficult, but the decision can be made easier with the help of an experienced DuPage County estate planning attorney, who can help guide you through the legal process of deciding and preparing the legal documents necessary. Call Stock, Carlson, Oldfield & McGrath LLC at 630-665-2500 to schedule your consultation today.