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Heirs and beneficiaries: Fist fights not the best way to go

Most Illinois parents likely do not expect their children to engage in physical brawls in their front yards when they die. Some may be surprised to learn it may be more of a risk than they realize. According to those who regularly assist heirs and beneficiaries in the probate and estate administration processes, children and other relatives of deceased estate owners often fight over seemingly worthless items.

Highly valuable items like jewels or art collections are sometimes subject to dispute among family members during estate administration. Incidental items, such as knickknacks and other personal belongings also often cause discord, especially among adult children of decedents. Estate owners are advised to put even their least valuable assets into writing to avoid fights over who gets what, among heirs.

In one particular situation, a brother and sister reportedly pummeled each other with fists when there was confusion as to whom their mother had intended to leave a grandfather clock. She supposedly had verbally promised the clock to both of her children at some point. During the fight, the clock broke and the siblings are no longer are speaking terms.

In addition to items that are not monetarily valuable, some assets come as a shock to family members, such as one man who discovered a substantial amount of marijuana in his deceased father’s closet. Even though the item was illegal, it was listed as a taxable asset during the estate administration process; it was also handed over to police. Illinois estate owners can help heirs and beneficiaries avoid problems by seeking assistance from experienced estate planning attorneys to put the particulars of intended bequests in writing ahead of time.

Source: CNBC, “7 ways that cheap Tweety Bird figurine can screw up your estate“, Kelli B. Grant, Accessed on Oct. 10, 2017

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