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

 

Wills and Trusts – Understanding the Difference and Why It Matters

DuPage County wills and trusts lawyersIt can take decades to build wealth, so it only makes sense for guarantors to want a say over how their assets will be distributed upon their death. Wills and estate plans are valuable estate planning tools that can allow you to do just that. There are some distinct differences between these two options, however, and a variety of factors can dictate which option is most appropriate for your situation. Learn more, including how our seasoned estate planning lawyers can help protect your heirs, and your estate, immediately and long into the future. 

What is a Will? 

A will is a written document that explains how a guarantor’s assets should be distributed, upon their death. A guarantor can retract or amend a will at any point in their lifetime, and an update is recommended any time that a guarantor experiences a significant change in their situation (i.e. marriage, divorce, children, etc.). Wills can also be used to name guardians for minor children. 

What is a Living Trust? 

Living trusts are meant to designate control over a guarantor’s assets. You can name yourself, but most guarantors assign a trustee to their estate. The trustee would have the power to manage any assets to which they have been assigned, should you become incapacitated. Living trusts can also  reduce the tax-load of an estate, and it allows heirs to avoid the probate process (in most situations). Another distinct benefit of a living trust is the anonymity that it grants your heirs; under this document, your financial affairs remain a private matter. 

Which Estate Planning Tool is Right for You?

Living trusts allow guarantor’s the most control over their assets, even after death, but they are not appropriate for every situation. Often costly and typically complex, these documents are generally reserved for more complex estate planning situations. Examples include an estate with:

  • A significant tax-load; 
  • Multiple heirs;
  • Minor children that must be supported until they come of age;
  • Children, grandchildren, or other dependents with special needs;
  • Heirs who poorly manage money; and
  • Assets or property that should be maintained or held within the family.

Because no two situations are exactly alike, and the estate planning process is complex and multi-layered, it is advised that guarantors seek skilled legal guidance when determining which estate planning tools are best suited for their needs. Stock, Carlson, Oldfield & McGrath, LLC is the firm to trust. Our experienced Wheaton wills and trusts lawyers offer more than 40 years of estate planning experience. Call 630-665-2500 for your consultation. 

Source:

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