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Lake Forest Illinois Trusts and Estates Law Blog

Probate litigation: Family disputes can cause serious rifts

No matter how cautious, diligent and thorough an Illinois estate owner is in his or her planning, if heirs or beneficiaries wish to contest the will, it can spark probate litigation. Many celebrities have died without signing a last will and testament, which is also a situation that often leads to probate litigation. There are also often legal problems when someone claims that an estate owner was not of sound mind when a will or trust was signed.

Former Hollywood actor Mickey Rooney was reportedly a victim of financial and physical abuse. His finances had dwindled to approximately $18,000 when the court appointed a conservator to make decisions on his behalf. Jerry Lee Lewis is another celebrity whose family members have been battling it out in court regarding his estate. He had a stroke and now, at age 83, resides in a rehabilitation facility.

Executrix wants court to change beneificiary designation

Even if an Illinois estate owner signs a last will and testament, disputes may arise when the time comes for the estate to be administered. A situation is currently unfolding in another state where an estate administrator has petitioned the court to change the beneficiary designated on a retirement account. The plaintiff has filed a lawsuit against the decedent's sister as well as a financial services company.

The estate owner passed away in 2018. He left his residence to his spouse and a remaining portion of his estate to the plaintiff, whom he also reportedly designated as executrix. The plaintiff has claimed that the financial services company has not distributed proceeds from the decedent's IRA in the proper manner. She apparently learned that the decedent had named his sister as beneficiary of those particular assets, but neither she nor the sister have received the funds.

What can you do about an incompetent executor or trustee?

Losing a loved one can be a socially, emotionally and financially difficult time in your life. Not only do you have to adjust to a future without the support of the person you love, but you also have to embrace the new legal reality that comes from their death.

Children and spouses often get used to having access to certain assets that belong to their loved one. When that person dies, it can suddenly become much more difficult to access those assets. Until the probate process is over, you may not be able to utilize certain assets at all.

Financial power of attorney: How does it work?

Many Illinois residents worry about becoming incapacitated or not being able to act independently when it comes to financial or health care matters. This is one of many reasons a lot of people grant a power of attorney. It is definitely something to consider, particularly if a person wishes to designate someone to make financial decisions and transactions on his or her behalf.

A financial power of attorney is a common component of many estate plans. It is helpful to know that a trusted relative, friend or other party is ready to stand in and make important decisions if an incident occurs that leaves the person granting the power incapacitated. In fact, many people take comfort in knowing that they have specifically designated authority to someone they trust and would not be relying on strangers to make decisions regarding their health or finances.

Wedding bells soon to ring? Don't forget estate planning talks

When an Illinois couple makes plans to marry, there may not seem to be enough hours in the day to get everything done before the big event. Where will the wedding take place? Who will be invited? How much money will they spend and where will they live after they are married? In addition to these topics, couples who want to start married life off on the right foot should include discussions about estate planning in their pre-wedding preparations.

Especially if one or both have been married before, it is critical that any existing estate plan be updated to designate the new spouse as a beneficiary. If there are children from a previous marriage, it is critical to decide how they will be incorporated into a new plan. Execution of a last will and testament is a basic part of the estate planning process; it's good to take care of this before marrying to avoid possible family disputes down the line.

Understand the will requirements in Illinois

Adults often think they have everything in order for life's necessary tasks. One thing that you might not be prepared for is what will happen to your estate when you pass away. Even though you might want to put this out of your mind, you need to get an estate plan created while you can still legally do this.

Illinois has specific regulations that govern wills, so you have to ensure that yours complies. If your will doesn't, or if you don't write one, your loved ones will have to deal with the state's intestate laws. These dictate who will get what, and nothing that has to do with your wishes are considered.

Heirs and beneficiaries: Complex issues in Nipsey Hussle case

Rap music star/entrepreneur Nipsey Hussle was gunned down in front of his own clothing store some time ago. In the wake of his sudden, tragic death, complicated issues regarding heirs and beneficiaries have arisen that will undoubtedly have a significant impact on the lives of his two children. Members of his immediate family, as well as the biological mothers of each of his children, are entangled in litigation regarding approximately $2 million the kids are in line to inherit. Illinois residents facing similar issues may want to follow this case.

Hussle died without having executed a last will and testament. This has sparked legal issues that have prompted several people to file petitions in court for various reasons. Lauren London is the 34-year-old mother of Hussle's two-year-old son. She has reportedly said that she wants to make sure she has control over her son's inheritance.

Heirs and beneficiaries: Avoid stress over a decedent's home

When a loved one dies, his or her Illinois home might wind up being sold. It may also be left as an inheritance to certain heirs and beneficiaries as designated in a last will and testament. However, if a person dies without having executed a will, what happens to the home may be complicated and may even spark discord between family members.

The best way to avoid legal problems regarding a loved one's home is to convince him or her to sign a will that includes instructions regarding the house. Of course, such actions must be taken while the home owner is still of sound mind. Surveys completed in the past few years have found that only approximately 42% of the population die with wills or estate plans in place. 

Will your family need to pay an estate tax on their inheritance?

One of the most common reasons for creating an estate plan is the desire to leave a legacy that protects the people we love. Some of the most critical parts of an estate plan include naming a guardian for your minor children and creating legal guides that can help your family make decisions about your medical care and other issues in the future.

Unfortunately, the more successful you have been in life, the more likely it is that the estate you leave to your family could create some stress and hardship. In some cases, your family could have to pay substantial estate taxes to the state of Illinois, as well as the federal government.

Problems with wills and trusts can be challenging to resolve

Illinois families do not always get along. This is especially true in cases where wills and trusts are contested. Even people who once enjoyed close, loving relationships may resort to nasty name-calling and accusations when it comes to fighting over a loved one's estate.

There are numerous reasons why someone might contest a will or trust. If a person signs a will, he or she must be of sound mind at the time. There have been many cases where an adult son, daughter, nephew, grandchild or other relative claims that an estate owner lacked testamentary capacity when he or she signed a will.

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