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.

 

Sources:

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

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

Not Updating Your Estate Plan After a Divorce Can Put Your Heirs at Risk

Illinois wills and trusts attorneysIf you have an estate plan in place, congratulations! You are already doing better than most Americans. Estate planning documents are not evergreen, however. Instead, the guarantor must review them regularly and update them whenever a significant change occurs. Perhaps the most overlooked (and potentially devastating) issue is that of divorce. Learn more about how not updating your estate plan after a divorce can put your heirs at risk, and discover how our seasoned Wheaton wills and trusts lawyers can help set things right again. 

Divorce and Your Estate Planning Documents

During a divorce, marital assets are divided and then distributed, which can drastically affect the value of your estate. As such, the exact details of your will or trust may change. There may be less to distribute to your heirs, or perhaps some specific assets went to your ex-spouse. In either case, your estate plan must be updated to reflect these changes in your net worth. Furthermore, you must practice due diligence to ensure that an oversight does not occur. For example, your divorce decree may state that your spouse is no longer entitled to any of your retirement pension plan, but if you do not change the designated beneficiary and you pass away unexpectedly, the money could still go to your ex-spouse, rather than the intended heirs. 

Updating Your Estate Plan After an Illinois Divorce

People often put off updating their estate plan after a divorce – perhaps because they have a new lease on life and do not fear being affected by the potential consequences of doing so. Yet, every day, tragic and unexpected events occur. Protect your heirs from mishaps by ensuring you update your estate plan as soon as your divorce has been finalized. Areas to focus your attention include:

Your healthcare proxy. While there are some divorced parties who may trust their ex-spouse to continue acting as their healthcare proxy, this is a pretty rare occurrence. Ensure that someone you care about and trust is put in charge of your medical decisions, should an accident occur, by taking the time to name a new healthcare proxy in your estate plan;

Your power of attorney. Just as you may not trust your ex-spouse to make decisions regarding your life, you may not want to trust them with your finances after a divorce has occurred. 

Your designated beneficiaries. While, in most cases, your will or living trust will dictate how assets are distributed upon your death, certain assets, such as pension plans and retirement accounts, cannot be overruled by an estate plan. Instead, the policy goes to the named beneficiary. Avoid wrongful disbursement by ensuring you update your beneficiaries. 

Guardianship of any minor children. While, usually, children will go to the other parent if one passes away, there are scenarios in which this option may not be appropriate (i.e. abuse or neglect). Furthermore, there is always the chance that you and your ex-spouse’s deaths will occur in-tandem. If this happens, the courts may struggle to determine who has rightful guardianship over your children (this could be especially true if your spouse has also named possible guardians in their own estate plan). Whatever your scenario, protect your children by ensuring that guardianship is considered and updated accordingly after your divorce. Also, be sure to update the trustee if you have a trust account for your children. 

How Our Wheaton Estate Planning Lawyers Can Help 

For most people, divorce signifies the start of a happier, more fulfilled life. The last thing you want to worry about is the possibility of your death. Stock, Carlson, Oldfield & McGrath, LLC can help. Backed by more than 40 years of legal experience, our DuPage County wills and trusts lawyers can examine your documents and assist you in making whatever changes are necessary. Call 630-665-2500 to schedule your consultation today. 

Source:

https://www.forbes.com/sites/christinefletcher/2019/01/08/9-things-you-need-to-know-about-estate-planning-after-divorce/#67dcac783e31

 

Estate Planning for Your Pet – What Pet Owners Should Know Before Writing Their Will

Wheaton will and trust attorneysWhen creating an estate plan, most people ensure their children and spouse are covered. Sadly, few people consider how their death could impact their furry family members. In fact, statistics indicate that only about 18 percent of pet owners have considered making provisions for their pet in their will. This oversight, which may be partially attributed to the fact that not everyone knows you can estate plan for a pet, often results in a poor outcome for beloved animals. Learn how you can prevent such a fate for your family pet using a pet trust or comprehensive estate plan, and discover how a seasoned estate planning lawyer can assist you with the estate planning process. 

Why Include Your Pet in an Estate Plan? 

In most states (including Illinois), pets are considered property. That means, if a pet owner dies, the animal is distributed like any other asset. Unfortunately, because a pet holds no financial benefit for the inheriting heir, it may be abandoned, surrendered, or neglected due to a lack of funds or desire to care for the animal. An estate plan can reduce the risk of such an issue occurring – and not just because the guarantor usually speaks with the inheriting party to ensure there is a desire to care for the pet, but because it often allows the pet owner to set up a fund that ensures the pet is well cared for, long after they are gone. Pet owners can also elect to set up alternate or subsequent guardians for their pet, just in case something should happen to the primary heir of the animal, such as a death, the birth of a child, or the development of allergies. 

How to Estate Plan for Your Pet

Creating an estate plan for an animal is a lot like making provisions for a child, but there are many special conditions and limitations that must be considered. For example, pet owners may be able to find a life insurance policy that can be left to the pet heir to ensure proper care of the animal, but these can be both difficult to find and costly – especially for older pet owners. Alternatively, the pet owner can set up a trust for the animal that covers the expected cost of vet bills, food, and grooming for the life of the pet. In either case, it is critical to ensure that the person receiving the money is interested not just in inheriting the funds, but also caring for the animal for the rest of its natural life. As such, it is highly recommended that pet owners take the time to discuss their wishes and desires with a potential pet heir to ensure they are both willing and able to accept the responsibility that comes with caring for a beloved pet. 

Contact Our Seasoned DuPage County Estate Planning Lawyers

At Stock, Carlson, Oldfield & McGrath, LLC, we prioritize the wishes and desires of our clients. Seasoned and experienced, our Wheaton estate planning attorneys can help you develop a comprehensive estate plan that covers all your family members – even the furry ones. Schedule a personalized consultation by calling 630-665-2500 today. 

Source:

https://www.petmd.com/dog/care/estate-planning-pets-why-you-should-do-it