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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.

One of his past wives and a daughter of another wife are at odds over the late singer's assets and what will happen to them when he dies. Lewis reportedly has suffered cognitive impairment. If, at some point, his will is contested, the court will likely want to see evidence that he signed all documents while he was still of sound mind.

Any Illinois resident age 18 or beyond may execute an estate plan. If he or she hopes to help his or her loved ones avoid probate litigation, it is a good idea to consult with an experienced estate planning attorney ahead of time. An attorney can provide guidance and support throughout the estate planning process and can remain on hand to help make any updates or adjustments, as needed.

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