Should My Will Have a No-Contest Provision?

no-contest, Wheaton estate planning lawyerAre you worried about what will happen to your surviving family members after your death? Maybe in the course of your conversations about your estate plan, you have seen warning signs that your children or other loved ones are not thrilled about your decisions. Or, perhaps you are concerned that one of your family members will be overcome by grief to the point where they cause problems without realizing what they are doing.

If you have such concerns, you may wish to consider adding a no-contest provision to your will. A no-contest provision can help reduce the possibility of your will being challenged after your death.

“In Terrorem” Clauses

A no-contest clause is sometimes known as an “in terrorem” clause. The Latin phrase “in terrorem” translates to “by way of threat.” Put simply, a no-contest provision threatens any heir who files a will contest in an effort to deter fighting between family members after the creator the will dies.

It is common for a no-contest clause to state that any heir who challenges the will forfeits the portion of the decedent’s estate that the heir was set to receive. In some cases, such a clause will drop the challenger’s inheritance down to a nominal amount like $1.

The idea is that if there is a possibility that the heir will get nothing, that heir is more apt to accept the provisions of the will, even he or she is not happy with the decedent’s choices. It is important to understand that a no-contest provision cannot legally prevent an heir from filing a will contest. The clause will only impact what happens afterward.

Important Considerations for No-Contest Clauses

If you are giving thought to a no-contest clause, you should talk to an estate planning lawyer before you make any decisions. For a no-contest provision to work as intended, the amount you intend to leave each of your heirs needs to be large enough to create an incentive. If, for example, you named 15 different beneficiaries, each of whom will inherit $20,000, one of them might be willing to risk $20,000 to try to get more through a will contest. If you only name three heirs, however, with each set to receive $100,000, a no-contest provision may carry much more weight.

Keep in mind that the courts have the authority to set aside an in-terrorem clause if a will contest is filed in good faith. For example, assume you are an heir in your father’s will which has a no-contest clause, but you believe that your father was forced to sign the will under duress or undue influence. You could file the will contest and request that court the invalidate the will. Assuming the court agrees, your father’s previous will would likely be reinstated. Even if that document also had a no-contest clause, the court might consider setting the in-terrorem clause aside because you were acting in the best interest of the estate, not just for yourself.

Call a DuPage County Wills and Trusts Attorney

If you would like to discuss your options regarding a no-contest provision in your will, contact a Wheaton estate planning lawyer. Call 630-665-2500 for a confidential consultation at Stock, Carlson, Oldfield & McGrath LLC today.

Sources:

http://www.ilga.gov/legislation/ilcs/ilcs5.asp?ActID=2104&ChapterID=60

https://www.thebalance.com/tips-for-avoiding-a-will-contest-3505204

Wills and Living Trusts – Do You Need Both?

DuPage County estate planning lawyersEstate planning is a complex and highly personalized process (at least it should be), and that means that no two estate plans are exactly the same. However, there are similarities and generalized information that one can use to determine which estate planning option may be most appropriate for their situation.

Consider, for example, the comparison of a will and living trust. Each strategy works the same, regardless of your situation, but your situation may warrant that you use one document or the other. Also, there may be certain scenarios in which both strategies are needed. Learn more about when this may occur, and discover how our seasoned estate planning lawyers can assist you in developing an estate plan that suits your needs.

Comparing Wills and Living Trusts

Although wills and living trusts both allow you to name beneficiaries and designate where assets will go upon your death, they do so in very different ways. Wills communicate your wishes upon your death, and they do not typically require you to do anything extra; you simply need to create it, register it, and ensure that loved ones know where to find a copy.

Living trusts can also designate assets and identify trustees, but you have more control over when and how the assets are assigned. For example, you can transfer your home to a beneficiary before your death, rather than after your death, to help them avoid probate after your death. Using a living trust over a will could also result in a more expedient transfer of property to the beneficiary. In short, living trusts can reduce the legal costs and delays that are often associated with probate over a contested will.

When Both May Be Needed

While most parties need only a will or living trust, there are certain situations that may warrant both. If, for example, you have assets that do not have value (i.e. items of sentiment, pets, etc.) that you want to go to a specific beneficiary, a will can help you do that. However, if you also have substantial assets that could go to probate, you may still need a living will to protect your beneficiary from the resulting delays and legal costs that might occur if someone does contest the validity of your will. An attorney can help you better understand what other situations might warrant both a living trust and a will.

Contact Our DuPage County Estate Planning Lawyers

Backed by more than 40 years of experience, Stock, Carlson, Oldfield & McGrath, LLC can skillfully assist you in developing an estate plan that suits your family's needs. Dedicated to ensuring your wishes are carried out, even after your death, our DuPage County estate planning lawyers can examine your situation, explain your options, and execute whatever strategy appeals to you. Call 630-665-2500 to schedule your personalized consultation today.

Source:

http://www.oregonlive.com/business/index.ssf/2018/01/liz_weston_living_trusts_can_h.html

Estate Planning Basics: Choosing a Guardian for Your Children

Illinois guardianship attorneysNo parent wants to think about passing away before their children have grown, but tragedies happen every day. Sadly, if families are unprepared for such an issue, their children may be further traumatized by the events that occur after their loss. As such, all parents are encouraged to name a guardian for their child in a legally drafted will. Learn more about this process, including how to choose the right person for the job, with help from the following.

Guardianship is Not Automatic

Above all else, parents need to know that guardianship is not automatic after a tragedy. For example, you may assume that your parents would automatically receive your children if something happened to you, but this is not the case. Instead, anyone that is interested in custody of your children can come forward and request it. Then a judge must hear each person's side and determine which home may be most appropriate.

The problem with this is that the judge may not choose the same guardian that you would have chosen. Also, children may be forced to spend time in a stranger's home – perhaps even emergency foster care – until a determination can be made. Do not let this happen to your children! Instead, choose a guardian that fits your views, preferences, and your child's needs.

Choosing the "Right" Guardian

Choosing the "right" guardian for your children may seem like a difficult task, but as a parent, you know what is best for your children. You also know the people closest to you – the ones that may be suitable guardians. Consider, first, which ones may be interested in serving as a guardian to your children. Then ask yourself some of the following questions:

  • Does the person in question have a parenting style that closely mimics yours?
  • Are the person's religious beliefs or core values similar to yours?
  • Is the person mentally, financially, and emotionally capable of caring for your children?
  • Does your child feel comfortable with the person?
  • Would your child have to move far away to live with that person, and would it cause additional trauma for your child?
  • Does the potential guardian have children of their own, and would it present a problem?
  • Would the person in question have the time and energy to devote to your child?

If, after considering all aspects, you believe you have a suitable guardian, consider also choosing a secondary guardian, just in case something should happen (i.e. death, disability, etc.) that might prevent your primary guardian from taking your children. Then contact an experienced lawyer to ensure you have considered all aspects of your guardianship plan.

Contact Our DuPage County Will and Guardianship Attorneys

At Stock, Carlson, Oldfield & McGrath, LLC, we are sensitive to the struggles parents face when deciding on a guardian for their child. Dedicated and experienced, we can examine your family's needs and situation and explain your options. At every turn, we strive to protect the interest of you and your children. Learn more about how our DuPage County will and guardianship lawyers can assist with your estate planning needs by scheduling a personalized consultation. Call our offices at 630-665-2500 today.

Source:

https://www.babycenter.com/0_how-to-choose-a-guardian-for-your-child_1286759.bc