On What Grounds Can a Will Be Contested?

contested, DuPage County estate planning lawyersOne of the most critical reasons it is important to work with a lawyer when drafting a will is that a will can be formally challenged, or contested, if it does not meet certain criteria. If a will is successfully challenged, then some or all of the directions for property distribution contained within the will are rejected. Instead, the testator’s property is distributed according to state law. An individual cannot contest a will simply because he or she considers it to be unfair or is unhappy with his or her share of the inheritance. Read on to learn about the grounds or reasons that a person may contest a will in Illinois.

Lack of Testamentary Capacity

“Testamentary capacity” refers to person’s cognitive abilities. A testator must be of sound mind in order to legally approve of the terms contained within his or her will. If a person lacked testamentary capacity when he or she agreed to the will, the will may be considered invalid. If a person suffers from Alzheimer’s disease, dementia, or another cognitive health issue and wishes to draft an estate plan, he or she should seek legal guidance from an experienced lawyer so that steps can be taken to prevent his or her will from being contested in the future.

Undue Influence

In order for a will to be valid, the testator must have freely and voluntarily agreed to the terms contained within the will. If the testator was coerced, tricked, or manipulated into agreeing to the provisions in his or her will, the will is not valid. Undue influence is often a concern when a particular person has virtually unlimited access to an aging or ill testator.

For example, one section of the Illinois Probate Act deals with suspicious property transfers to non-related caregivers. If an individual leaves more than $20,000 to a non-related caregiver, such as a home health aid, this transfer is presumed to be void. If the will or other property transfer instrument is challenged in court, the caretaker is obligated to prove to the court that the transfer was not the result of fraud or undue influence.  

Fraud and Forgery

If a will is created through fraud, the will is not valid. One example of fraud occurs when a beneficiary lies to the testator in order to get the testator to increase his or her inheritance. Another example of fraud occurs when a beneficiary forges the testator’s signature or changes the contents in the will without the testator’s consent. It can be very difficult to prove a will was affected by fraud once the testator has passed away. Contesting a will based on fraud will require help from a skilled attorney.

Contact a Wheaton Will Contest Attorney

If you have reason to believe that your loved one’s will is invalid or you wish to draft your will, trust, or other estate plan, the skilled DuPage County estate planning lawyers at Stock, Carlson, Oldfield & McGrath LLC can help. Call our office at 630-665-2500 and schedule a confidential consultation to discuss your needs today.

 

Sources:

http://www.ilga.gov/legislation/publicacts/fulltext.asp?Name=098-1093

https://www.thebalance.com/what-are-the-grounds-for-contesting-a-will-3505208

The Many Benefits of Drafting a Living Will

living will, DuPage County estate planning lawyersA living will is a type of advance health care directive that allows a person to make decisions ahead of time about their wishes regarding medical treatments and end of life care. It is not a pleasant thought to have, but have you ever wondered what would happen if you were incapacitated and could not express your wishes regarding the type of medical care you do and do not want to undergo? For example, if a serious car accident leaves you in a permanent vegetative state, would you want to be kept alive via a ventilator? It can be very emotionally taxing to make the decisions contained in a living will, however, doing so means that your surviving loved ones will not have to make these decisions on your behalf.

A Living Will Lets You Make Decisions About Your Future Medical Care

In a living will, you describe the medical treatments you do and do not want to receive if you become incapacitated and cannot specify this information yourself. Medical treatments commonly discussed in a living will include dialysis, mechanical ventilation, cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR), tube feeding, antibiotics and antiviral medications, and palliative care. You will also be able to dictate if you would want to be allowed to spend your last days at home. Many people have strong feelings about organ, tissue, or body donation. In your living will, you can specify that you only wish to be kept on life-sustaining machines for the purposes of organ donation. If you wish to donate your body to a university or other donation program, you will also be able to specify this in your living will, as well as in other estate planning documents.

Your Loved Ones Will Not Be Burdened With Making Your Medical Decisions

Extensive legal battles can result from family members that disagree about an incapacitated loved one’s medical care. Many people remember the events surrounding the death of Terri Schiavo in 2005. The young woman had suffered severe brain damage and was not expected to ever recover from a persistent vegetative state. Her husband wanted her feeding tube removed so that she could pass away, but her parents fought aggressively to keep her alive. Disagreements like these can be avoided when an individual has a living will. Instead of family members having to guess what type of end-of-life care you would have wanted, they will be able to follow your directions.

Contact a DuPage County Living Will Lawyer

By taking the time now to develop a living will, you can save your loved ones a great deal of stress and anxiety in the event of a tragedy. For help deciding what types of estate planning documents best fit your needs, assistance with drafting a living will, and more, contact a Wheaton estate planning attorney at the law firm of Stock, Carlson, Oldfield and McGrath LLC. Call 630-665-2500 to schedule an initial consultation.

 

Sources:

https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/consumer-health/in-depth/living-wills/art-20046303

https://time.com/3763521/terri-schiavo-right-to-die-brittany-maynard/

Can I Include My Pets in My Estate Plan?

pet trust, Wheaton estate planning attorneyAs you go through the steps of creating an estate plan, you will probably give plenty of consideration to which of your family members will receive a particular asset or a part of your estate. If you have a young grandchild, for example, you could choose to bequeath one of your vehicles to him or her. With children, grandchildren, and other loved ones to consider, many people often overlook their companion animals. Could it be possible to include provisions for a pet dog or cat in your Illinois estate plan? Put simply, the answer is yes, but there are some limitations.

The Basics of a Pet Trust

Under the law in Illinois, you are permitted to make provisions for the care and protection of certain domestic animals through estate planning. In fact, the law explicitly allows for the creation of “trusts for domestic or pet animals”—more commonly known as “pet trusts.” The statute is not precise regarding the species of animals that are eligible to be covered under pet trust, as it simply states that the trust can be set up for the benefit of “one or more designated domestic or pet animals.” Over the years, however, Illinois courts have determined that pet trusts can apply to cats, dogs, and horses, as well as a number of other kinds of animals. Generally, livestock and farm animals are not considered domestic or pet animals.

In setting up your pet trust, you will be required to specify each animal that you wish to have covered. The trust documentation must include the animal’s name, sex, age, species, breed, and any other important details. You should also list any known health or medical conditions so that the individual you choose to manage the trust—known as the trustee—will be better prepared for the future.

Establishing Expectations

It is your right to decide how the assets you have put into a pet trust will be used. With this in mind, you should be sure to be specific about the level and type of care that you wish to be provided for the covered animals. For example, if you expect your trustee to have your beloved dog groomed every other month, you should include such directions in the trust documents.

Choosing a trustee wisely is also important. The person you choose should share your love of animals and be willing to carry out your wishes exactly as you intend.

At your discretion, your pet trust could also provide the trustee with the power to sell or give the animal to a new owner in the right situation. Consider a scenario, for example, in which your selected caregiver has taken in your dog—a friendly animal who loves children. About a year following your death, your granddaughter—who now has two children—asks to adopt your dog, promising to give him a loving home. Your chosen caregiver could only allow the adoption if you have given him or her the permission to do so.

Closing the Pet Trust

An Illinois pet trust can remain in effect only while the covered animals are still living. The trust must be closed upon the death of the last designated pet, or when the chosen caregiver is no longer caring for the last designated pet. Any assets remaining in the trust will then be distributed according to the plan that you established. This means that you must decide in advance what will happen to those funds. Should the caregiver be allowed to keep them? Should the money be given to a local animal rescue organization? The choice is yours, but it is important to include your decision in the trust documents to ensure that your wishes are carried out properly.

Call a Wheaton Estate Planning Lawyer

A pet trust is just one piece of a comprehensive estate plan. If you have questions about pet trusts or other instruments of estate planning, contact an experienced DuPage County wills and trusts attorney at Stock, Carlson, Oldfield & McGrath LLC. Call 630-665-2500 to schedule a confidential consultation and get the guidance you need.

 

Source:

http://www.ilga.gov/legislation/ilcs/ilcs3.asp?ActID=2117&ChapterID=61