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Lake Forest Illinois Trusts and Estates Law Blog

Does a single adult need an estate plan?

Single adults who don't have children might think they can skip out on the estate planning process. These individuals may not realize how far-reaching the impacts can be if they don't take the time to create an estate plan. One of the most important things to remember is that creating an estate plan gives you the power to determine what happens during your final days and with your assets after you are gone.

Creating an estate plan doesn't have to be a difficult matter. You have to make a few decisions. Those decisions are then relayed in a legal manner so that they will be followed when the time comes. Without an estate plan, everything is handled according to Illinois' intestate laws, which might not reflect your wishes.

Estate planning: It's never too soon to start

Many Illinois readers who see this post are among hundreds, if not thousands of others, who have been hesitant to think about a topic that is applicable to everyone. Dying is an inevitable part of every life journey. Because many people do not like to think about their own mortality, they procrastinate when it comes to the estate planning process.

Some people think if they simply avoid thinking about their need for an estate plan, it will somehow take care of itself. This could not be further from the truth, however, and the longer someone waits to execute a plan, the greater the chances of dying without one in place. The good news is that, while it can definitely be too late to start an estate plan, it is never too early. Any adult man or woman of sound mind can customize a plan that helps him or her protect assets, provide instructions regarding medical care and help loved ones avoid legal complications when the time comes to administer the estate.

Heirs and beneficiaries: State laws affect inheritance

If someone in Illinois dies after signing a last will and testament, someone else, such as the decedent's spouse or other immediate family member may stand to inherit a portion or all of his or her estate. State laws vary regarding heirs and beneficiaries. That is why it is always helpful to speak with someone well-versed in estate planning issues in this state, if one has questions or concerns about a particular inheritance situation.

In this state and most others, ownership is determined by names written on a property title. Regarding real estate property, there are several types of titles. Things can get complicated if disputes arise among prospective heirs or beneficiaries.

Probate litigation ahead for Tom Petty's loved ones

Many Illinois residents are adult children of parents who have divorced and remarried. Stepparent/child relationships can be complicated, and in cases of a biological parent's death, problems may arise that lead to probate litigation. Such is the case regarding former rock and roll icon Tom Petty's estate.

It seems Petty's children have filed a lawsuit against his widow. It comes after two other cases, one filed by Petty's widow against the daughters and another filed by one of the daughters against her stepmother. In this latest filing, both daughters claim their stepmother has failed to follow instructions left by their father regarding his artistic properties that, according to the sisters, were to be distributed into a limited liability company wherein his daughters were to have equal control over their fathers' legacy.

Planning your estate when you have an addicted child

As a parent, you will feel unconditional love for your child and will want to protect them at all costs. Sadly, we cannot always be there for our children, and they will need to deal with life's obstacles without the emotional support of their parents.

This can be particularly difficult to deal with if your child is facing hardships, particularly addiction. It can feel impossible to help a person with addiction if they do not want to seek professional help, and, as a parent, it is likely that you will worry immensely about your child's future.

Probate litigation ahead for Tom Petty's loved ones

Many Illinois residents are adult children of parents who have divorced and remarried. Stepparent/child relationships can be complicated, and in cases of a biological parent's death, problems may arise that lead to probate litigation. Such is the case regarding former rock and roll icon Tom Petty's estate.

It seems Petty's children have filed a lawsuit against his widow. It comes after two other cases, one filed by Petty's widow against the daughters and another filed by one of the daughters against her stepmother. In this latest filing, both daughters claim their stepmother has failed to follow instructions left by their father regarding his artistic properties that, according to the sisters, were to be distributed into a limited liability company wherein his daughters were to have equal control over their fathers' legacy.

When should you replace a trustee?

When you choose a person to serve as a trustee for your estate, you give them a great deal of responsibility and must place trust in them to meet your expectations. Unfortunately, time and unforeseen circumstances may change the nature of your relationship to the trustee, or their behavior may give you reasons to question their judgment.

It is common to feel trapped when your relationship with a trustee deteriorates, but the law provides means for removing and replacing a trustee when you believe the time is right. Protecting your rights and your legacy is a crucial part of creating your escape plan. Make sure to use strong legal resources and guidance as you need them while you make changes to your estate plan in Lake Forest and the individuals involved with it.

Probate litigation: Wills found in Aretha Franklin's home

The queen of soul, Aretha Franklin, delighted music fans in Illinois and throughout the world for many decades. Her private life, however, was something of a mystery, as made evident after her death when numerous legal issues surfaced regarding her estate. Probate litigation continues, as answers are sought regarding questions surrounding three handwritten wills that were reportedly found in the late singer's home.

The soul music icon passed away approximately nine months ago. At the time, it was believed she had never signed a last will and testament. It has since been brought to the court's attention that three separate documents, all of which appear to be signed by Franklin, have been discovered in her former home. In fact, one of the documents was said to be stuffed under a cushion.

Estate planning may be beneficial for these reasons

Many people in Illinois and elsewhere avoid thinking about the fact that their time on earth is limited. They like to take life as it comes and do not like to think about their own mortality. Others, however, understand that every person's life eventually comes to an end, and they also know that they can use the estate planning process to protect what they've worked so hard to acquire and also help provide future support for their loved ones.

Estate or inheritance taxes can be quite burdensome. This is why many estate owners place property in trust or incorporate other documents in their estate plans to help reduce or completely eliminate such taxes. Each person's circumstances are unique, which is why it helps to ask an experienced estate law attorney to review one's case to provide guidance and make recommendations accordingly.

Sometimes, probate litigation is necessary in Illinois

While most Illinois estate owners might hope that their estate plans are solid, with clearly defined terms, any number of issues can arise when it comes time to settle an estate. Probate litigation becomes a necessity when a provision of a last will and testament, a particular appointment of a person or modification of a will is challenged. Issues involving heirs or beneficiaries, tax information or trusts can be highly complex and difficult to resolve.

Sometimes, family members are at odds when one person has been left out of a will or another claims he or she has proof that the decedent wanted to transfer certain asset to that individual. It is not uncommon for legal problems to spark personal relationship rifts, as well. Sadly, many family relationships have been permanently scarred when those involved did not agree on how an estate issue was handled.

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