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Lake Forest Illinois Trusts and Estates Law Blog

10 important statistics about sibling estate disputes

You and your siblings fall into a dispute after your parents pass away and they leave you an inheritance. No one thinks the will is fair, and you wind up in court.

It's not a pretty sight. Not only do you feel like you're losing what is rightfully yours -- and perhaps you are -- but it really pits you and your siblings against one another. You do not talk about anything else and you wonder, when it's all over, if you will ever talk again.

Trying to avoid probate litigation? These ideas might help

The last thing most Illinois estate owners want is to inadvertently tie their loved ones up in months or years of legal disputes when it comes time to administer their estates. The good news is that it is often possible to avoid probate litigation. Planning ahead and seeking clarification of state laws may be keys to success.  

The probate process often has to do with transferring of assets. There are several means for transferring property ahead of time to help loved ones steer clear of probate litigation down the line. A trust is essentially a right to own property. There are various types of trusts, and each estate owner may customize his or her plan to best fit individual goals. 

Probate litigation re Prince's estate resolved

When music legend Prince died, the administration of his estate was anything but smooth sailing. His sudden death from an overdose of a painkiller, fentanyl, shocked and saddened music fans throughout the world and left his family members at odds with several others concerning his estate. Probate litigation regarding streaming rights to some of his songs and other issues has finally been resolved. Illinois residents who find themselves facing protracted probate proceedings can reach out for legal support to help them solve their problems as well.  

Not long after his death, Prince's record company filed a lawsuit against Roc Nation, which is owned by Jay-Z. Prince's people claimed top Prince hit, "Purple Rain" and other selections from his Warner Bros. catalog were being streamed without permission. Parties have recently agreed to forge a new deal, allowing Tidal to debut an album of previously unreleased Prince songs. 

Estate planning and administration: designating beneficiaries

It is unlikely that any two Illinois residents will have the exact same estate plans. This is because everyone's needs and goals are unique, and the estate planning and administration process is customizable. Choosing beneficiaries is an integral component of most people's estate planning processes.

A final will and testament is often executed as part of an estate plan. By naming an executor, an estate owner ensures that someone he or she trusts will carry out the terms of the will. When it comes to choosing beneficiaries, there are several considerations to keep in mind.

Heirs and beneficiaries battling over $60,000 in life insurance

Many adults in Illinois are children or grandchildren of recently deceased elders. Some situations no doubt involve disputes between heirs and beneficiaries. Sadly, such circumstances are not all that uncommon and can be quite challenging to resolve. A woman who is the granddaughter of a recent decedent in another state understands just how difficult it can be as she is fighting several local agencies over $60,000 in life insurance her grandma apparently wanted donated upon her death.  

The woman says she has requested that the various agencies to whom her grandmother expressed a desire to donate the money refuse the gift so that she and her family can use the funds to satisfy the exorbitant debt created by her grandmother's passing. The woman says she is worried that she will be held legally accountable for approximately $30,000 in funeral expenses and other unpaid bills, and she believes it is only right that the intended receivers of the donations politely decline the gifts so she can avoid financial disaster. A local fire department complied with the woman's request and declined its donation.  

Can your problem child challenge your will?

You have four children, and three of them have been everything you ever hoped for as a parent. They never got in trouble with the law, they all graduated from college, they got married and started families and careers. They still come home for Christmas and send you cards on your birthday.

Your other child, though, has always faced problems. Small-time legal issues started in high school. They led to failing grades. That child never even went to college. He or she now struggles to keep a job for more than a few months.

Estate planning from a pet care perspective

Illinois pet owners may want to consider designating someone to step in and care for their beloved fur companions if they die or become incapacitated. The estate planning process is a great tool to help pet owners ensure that the needs of their dogs, cats or other pets will be met when they are no longer there to do care for the animals themselves. Certain things should be taken into consideration when incorporating pet instructions into an estate plan.

Firstly, while a particular item may have great sentimental value to a pet owner, such as the first chew toy ever purchased for a puppy or a customized feeding bowl, it doesn't mean the item holds true asset value. An official appraisal can clarify whether a specific item can be listed as an asset or whether it is best left out of a plan altogether. Also, it's crucial to choose a pet care provider who is willing and prepared to take on the responsibility.

Estate planning and administration case ends with settlement

Illinois readers concerned about mismanagement of estates will want to pay close attention to a recent court ruling. This particular estate planning and administration case involves the heirs of deceased American Airlines executive Max Hopper and JPMorgan Chase. The former filed a lawsuit against the latter, stating the bank had committed gross mismanagement of their father's $19 million estate.  

In 2017, a jury submitted the largest U.S. verdict that year, which was against JPMorgan Chase to the tune of $8 billion. The amount in punitive damages the jury awarded Hopper's children and his estate was reportedly not legally defensible per federal and state rulings where the case was heard. The children sought $74 million after conceding to those rulings. 

Do you know how to choose an executor of your will?

Choosing an executor of your will is easier said than done, as you realize that the decision you make today could have an impact on your estate and loved ones in the future.

For this reason, you need to think long and hard about who you choose as the executor. While you don't want to put this off, you need to take as much time as necessary to compare your options with the idea of making the best decision.

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