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.
Many Illinois residents are adult children of parents who have divorced and remarried. Stepparent/child relationships can be complicated, and in cases of a biological parent's death, problems may arise that lead to probate litigation. Such is the case regarding former rock and roll icon Tom Petty's estate.
The queen of soul, Aretha Franklin, delighted music fans in Illinois and throughout the world for many decades. Her private life, however, was something of a mystery, as made evident after her death when numerous legal issues surfaced regarding her estate. Probate litigation continues, as answers are sought regarding questions surrounding three handwritten wills that were reportedly found in the late singer's home.
While most Illinois estate owners might hope that their estate plans are solid, with clearly defined terms, any number of issues can arise when it comes time to settle an estate. Probate litigation becomes a necessity when a provision of a last will and testament, a particular appointment of a person or modification of a will is challenged. Issues involving heirs or beneficiaries, tax information or trusts can be highly complex and difficult to resolve.
Some Illinois residents hesitate to execute estate plans for various reasons, often including the fact that they feel overwhelmed when thinking of all the issues they will need to resolve. Others simply do not like to discuss their own mortality or think about the possibility that they could one day become incapacitated and unable to make financial or medical decisions for themselves. However, many people, especially those who want to help their loved ones avoid probate litigation, would rather be proactive in organizing their own assets than leaving all such decisions to a probate court.