How to Prevent a Contested Estate in Illinois

IL estate planning attorney, Illinois probate lawyer, IL probate attorney, The time after a loved one’s passing is hard for all grieving family members, and it can be even more difficult when disputes arise over the decedent’s wishes or the validity of the will. As you prepare your estate plan, you should consider what you can do to prevent these disputes from happening after your death so that your family remains intact and well-provided for. The following tips will help prevent a contested estate.

Creating an Illinois Estate Plan to Minimize Disputes

Many contested estate disputes happen because family members are dissatisfied with how the terms of the will affect them, while others may be based more firmly on legal grounds. You should, of course, make sure that the terms of your estate plan reflect what you truly want, but there are also steps that you can take to help your family and beneficiaries understand your reasoning and show that you were of sound mind when making your decisions. These include:

  • Considering your family’s wants and needs. You may be able to prevent disputes simply by drafting your will in a way that accounts for the things that are most important to each of your beneficiaries. Consider which of your beneficiaries would be most in need of financial support after your death. If there are certain properties that are important to different family members, try to accommodate their desires when possible.
  • Discussing your estate with your family. The more open you can be with your family about your estate while you are alive, the less likely your will is to shock or upset them after your death. Regular conversations also give you the opportunity to address potential conflicts and can mitigate future claims that the will does not reflect your true wishes.
  • Keeping good records and following required procedures. Creating your will with the assistance of a qualified estate planning attorney can ensure that you follow proper protocol, maintain detailed documentation, and have reliable witnesses to your signings. This can help prevent contested probate on the grounds that the will was not lawfully created.
  • Choosing a trusted executor. Your executor can be a family member or close friend, or it can be an attorney or other professional. Choosing someone who your family members trust may help prevent claims of fraudulent execution or coercion at the time you created your will.

Contact a DuPage County Estate Planning Attorney

It is never too early to start focusing on estate planning and securing your family’s future. When you need a trusted advisor who can help you ensure that your will is valid and provides for all important beneficiaries, the attorneys at Stock, Carlson & Duff, LLC can help. Contact a Wheaton estate planning lawyer today at 630-665-2500.



What Are the Different Types of Powers of Attorney in Illinois?

IL estate planning lawyers, IL probate attorney, In the instance that you become unable to handle your own affairs, either financially or medically, it is important that you have a power of attorney (POA) set in place. This allows you to designate who will be in charge of your affairs if you are unable to do so on your own. The person designated to handle the affairs is known as the “agent” and the person who the POA concerns is known as the “principal.” If you are intending on getting your affairs in order, it is important to work with a reputable estate planning attorney to ensure that the POA is valid and the proper terms are included.

General POA Requirements

There are a number of requirements that must be met when creating a POA in the state of Illinois. In order for the legal document to be valid, the agent must be designated by name and their powers must be outlined. POAs are unique to your circumstances so you should include, in detail, what your agent is legally responsible for. This person must be at least 18 years of age. The POA must be signed by the principal and at least one witness must be present. The principal must also acknowledge their signature, and thus their consent to the POA, in front of a notary public, or attorney.

Types of POAs

Illinois recognizes two types of POAs — healthcare power of attorney and a property powers of attorney. The healthcare POA outlines how you would like your medical affairs handled. This can be difficult to work through since you are determining how long you would like to be kept alive if you cannot do so on your own. The agent will be named as the party who can make this decision for you if the time comes. It is critical that you select a trustworthy individual as your agent since they will be deciding your life or death. Married couples will typically select their spouse as their POA agent, but in some cases, they may select another person. It can be difficult for a spouse to decide against keeping their spouse on life support, even if this is what he or she asked their agent to choose if the situation arises.

Property POAs focus on the details of your finances. If you are incapable of handling your own financial affairs, an agent can be named to manage your affairs during that time. Some may decide to sign a durable power of attorney, which becomes effective immediately and is not dependent upon your incapacity. Most will sign a springing POA which only comes into effect upon your incapacity which is determined and diagnosed by medical professionals to avoid any questions on the matter.

Call a DuPage County Estate Planning Lawyer

Placing someone else in charge of your medical or financial decisions can be a difficult pill to swallow. Unfortunately, it is often inevitable as we age or can be completely unexpected as a result of a serious accident or diagnosis at a young age. There is no way to predict your future, but you are able to prepare for the unexpected. At Stock, Carlson, Oldfield & McGrath, LLC, our compassionate legal team works with clients of all ages to help them get their affairs in order. Whether you have recently received a grim diagnosis, are noticing your old age, or simply want the unexpected to be planned, contact our Wheaton powers of attorney lawyers at 630-665-2500 for help.



Should I Use a Revocable Living Trust or an Irrevocable Living Trust?

IL estate planning lawyer, Illinois trust attorneyAlthough many people assume that a last will and testament is the only estate planning tool that they need, a will is not always the best way to accomplish all of your estate planning goals. Other estate tools such as living trusts are often overlooked due to confusion or misunderstandings about the purpose of these tools. A trust is a legally binding agreement involving an individual or entity called a trustee who holds property for the benefit of a beneficiary. A living trust is an advantageous tool for managing your assets during your lifetime and then passing those assets to beneficiaries upon your death. If you are interested in using a living trust to manage your assets, you may question whether you should use a revocable living trust or an irrevocable living trust.

Revocable Trusts

As the name implies, a revocable trust is one that is able to be revoked or canceled. If you place assets in a revocable trust, you remain in control of those assets. You are also considered to be the owner of those assets in the eyes of the Internal Revenue Service and other governmental agencies. Because the property is yours, you can choose to remove the property from the trust and use it for other purposes at any time. A revocable living trust covers you while you are alive, in the event that you are incapacitated by illness or injury, and after you pass away. One of the greatest benefits of a revocable living trust is that it avoids probate– the public legal process during which a will is validated in court. Because you remain the owner of the property placed in a revocable trust, transferring property to a revocable trust does not affect your federal income taxes or estate income.

Irrevocable Trusts

An irrevocable trust is not able to be withdrawn. When you transfer assets to an irrevocable trust, you no longer own the assets or have control over them. The trust itself becomes the owner of the property. This means that you cannot take the assets out of the trust. Because you are not the owner of the assets in an irrevocable trust, you cannot be taxed on them. However, you can continue to gain revenue on investments from the trust. Depending on your net worth and overall estate planning goals, there may be enormous tax benefits to placing assets in an irrevocable trust. Using an irrevocable trust may also help shield your assets from any future creditors.

Contact a Wheaton Trust Lawyer

Assets placed within a revocable trust may be withdrawn at any time while assets in an irrevocable trust are no longer considered your property. There are advantages and disadvantages to both irrevocable and revocable trusts. If you want to learn more about which type of trust will best suit your unique needs, contact Stock, Carlson & Duff LLC. Call our office today at 630-665-2500 and schedule a personalized consultation with a knowledgeable DuPage County estate planning attorney.