A Will Lawyer Schaumburg, IL Trusts Discusses Estate Planning
When a loved one passes away, being able to see the road beyond your loss can be difficult to do. Although there may be much to do, if you are responsible for the estate, it can feel daunting to manage. In most cases, probate is a necessary process when managing your loved one’s final affairs and last wishes. When complications arise, or the will is contested, it can prolong probate and make the mourning process more emotionally charged.
If you’re in this situation right now, Bott & Associates, Ltd. may be able to help. We have assisted countless families in Schaumburg, IL who have been faced with probate court proceedings.
When a person passes away, probate is a legal process in which the will is reviewed and validated by the courts. During this process, an estate executor is appointed and given the ability to carry out the testator’s final wishes. In most cases, the estate executor is identified in the will and then confirmed by the court. Probate may also involve settling a person’s debts and ensuring that the appropriate taxes are paid on certain assets.
In cases where there is a dispute over the appointment of the identified executor, the court may step in to make a decision. When a person passes away intestate, it means they did not have a will identifying an executor or how assets will be divided amongst beneficiaries. Situations like this may require the court to make decisions or appoint an executor to manage how the estate will be settled.
Contesting a Will
At times, someone within the family may consider whether they have the ability to contest the will that was left by the person who passed away. Although many may worry about the possibility of this circumstance, it is fairly rare that a person is able to successfully contest a will. Only certain people have the ability to contest a will. In order to take this step you must be:
- Named in a previous version of the will
If you or someone in your family is considering contesting the will, they most likely will want to speak with a will lawyer in Schaumburg, IL first. An attorney can review the case to ensure that you have the grounds to move forward in this process. They will look to several key components to determine whether the will should be questioned. Some valid reasons for questioning a will might be:
- The will is not compliance with state laws.
- The will was not signed in the presence of witnesses.
- The will was drawn up fraudulently and the testator was unaware of what they were signing.
- The person lacked the capacity to sign the will. Examples of this include severe mental illness, Alzheimer’s disease, and dementia.
- The will was signed under duress.
It will be important to carefully consider whether you have a valid claim to contest the will. Not only can the process be difficult and drawn out; it may also impact familial relationships. Unfortunately, when a loved one passes away, it can cause tensions within families to arise, especially when complications come up with the will or the distribution of assets.
Life Events that Could Change Your Will and Estate Plan
Too many people make the mistake of setting up an estate plan and then never looking at it again. This can cause major issues when the person passes if they had experienced life events that could have had a significant effect on what the decedent’s wishes were when they originally set up their plans and what their wishes were when they passed. A will lawyer who works with clients will advise those clients to periodically review their wills and other plans to make sure what they have drafted previously is still how they want their estate divided. However, there are also changes that take place in a person’s life where they should definitely update their estate plans.
One of the most common of these life events is getting married or divorced. Some people make the mistake believing that when they marry, their spouse automatically becomes beneficiary in their estate plans. This is simply not the case. If you do not specifically update your will, life insurance policy, retirement accounts, and any other estate plans you have, whoever you have named in the past as beneficiaries will be the ones to inherit your estate.
The same issue presents itself for people who divorce. That divorce decree does not remove your now ex-spouse as beneficiary from those estate documents. This has to be updated by you and your will lawyer. A far too common and tragic situation goes like this: A person divorces but fails to remove their ex-spouse as beneficiary. They eventually remarry and still fail to update estate plans. Then they die, however, instead of their current spouse inheriting retirement accounts, life insurance benefits, etc., their ex-spouse receives those funds because their name was never removed.
The birth or adoption of a child is also a major life event that requires an estate plan update. Not only do you want to ensure that assets are available to care for your child, but you also want to choose a guardian who will be responsible for raising your child should you no longer be here to do it. If you do not name a guardian, the courts will choose who that person should be, and it may not be who you would choose.
Another situation where estate plans should be updated is when a couple marries and they have children from prior relationships. Blended family situations can get complex when it comes to wills and other estate plan tools. A seasoned will lawyer will be able to assist you in navigating through an often-complicated legal situation.
Contact a Schaumburg, IL Will Lawyer
The loss of a loved one is an incredibly painful process to endure. When coupled with questions surrounding the estate and the will itself, it can make an already difficult time even more complicated. It’s likely that this will not only prolong probate, but also impact the ability to truly begin mourning the person who has passed away. During such a stressful and emotionally charged time, contacting a will lawyer may be an attractive option.
At Bott & Associates, Ltd., we’re very familiar with the processes of creating wills, enforcing wills, distributing assets, contesting wills, and going through probate court. We know that this can be a difficult time for the whole family and it’s our goal to ease some of the pain.