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When the goal is to avoid probate litigation

Many Illinois estates are comprised of high-net worth assets while others are less complex. Either way, an ultimate goal of estate owners is often to execute a thorough plan to help loved ones avoid probate litigation. Such litigation is typically time-consuming, expensive and often aggravating for heirs. 

Setting up a trust is usually the simplest means for avoiding probate. A revocable (or living) trust may be changed or updated as needed, as long as the estate owner is still alive and of sound mind. Joint property ownership is another way to steer clear of probate proceedings.

Title to property owned in joint tenancy automatically transfers to the surviving owner when the co-owner dies. In relation to the estate planning process, this is known as "right of survivorship." Laws vary by state, so it is important to seek clarification regarding Illinois laws concerning these matters before consummating a real estate or other financial transaction.

Naming beneficiaries also helps avoid probate litigation. An Illinois estate owner may establish a "payable on death" account, which would transfer ownership of a particular account to a designated beneficiary upon the death of the benefactor. The beneficiary is typically able to collect assets from an account by visiting the appropriate bank and providing proper identification. Numerous issues can spark legal problems concerning estate administration, which is why it pays to meet with an experienced probate attorney for support rather than try to resolve an issue on one's own. A well-crafted estate plan can do a lot more than head off potential probate litigation; it can lay the groundwork for a smooth and clear-cut estate administration.

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Lesser Lutrey Pasquesi & Howe, LLP
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