Some Illinois readers may be aware that the late, former U.S. Attorney General Janet Reno owned a homestead that is said to be of significant historical value. Before she died, Ms. Reno executed an estate plan that included specific instructions regarding transfer of ownership of the homestead in the event of her death. Due to extenuating issues, Reno's wishes could not be carried out, which has sparked a complex probate litigation case between her niece and other members of her family.
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.
No two estate plans are exactly the same. However, Illinois residents concerned about probate litigation may want to review several cases involving celebrities, as doing so may help avoid certain legal problems down the line. Many people are familiar with former rock star Jimi Hendrix although not many people are aware that he died with having executed a last will and testament.
When an Illinois estate owner dies, it typically activates a court process. Depending on whether the person died intestate or testate determines how the process unfolds. There are often ways to avoid probate litigation, but in certain circumstances it is necessary.
Huguette Clark was the daughter of a coal baron. When she died, her estate was worth more than $300 million. She had signed a will that left most of it to 21 relatives, some of whom she did not even know. At some point, however, she reportedly signed a second will that negated the first, and this action eventually led to probate litigation after she passed away.
Every Illinois resident will basically die in one of two ways, legally speaking. Either a person dies testate (meaning, he or she left a last will and testament) or intestate (meaning, there is no will). The latter can spark complications for loved ones regarding probate litigation.
Most Illinois estate owners try to incorporate instructions, documents and details in their estate plans to help their loved ones when the time comes to administer their estates. Any number of issues can lead to probate litigation, however. For instance, there are certain circumstances that would make it appropriate to contest a will.
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.
Fans of Chris Cornell in Illinois and across the world mourned the former rocker's sudden, unexpected death in 2018. The cause of death was listed as a suicide. While numerous types of drugs were found in his blood according to toxicology test results, the musician had apparently died by hanging himself, and the drugs did not cause his death. Now, Cornell's widow and ex-wife are involved in a dispute regarding his estate valued at $20 million that could wind up in probate litigation.
When an Illinois resident dies, his or her property may be transferred through a court process. Probate litigation can take a long time, which is why many people prepare estate plans to help their loved one avoid it. Most people who want to avoid probate specifically want to avoid the fees commonly associated with it.