What Responsibilities Does an Executor of a Will Have?

executor, DuPage County estate planning attorneysCreating an estate plan is a vital responsibility regardless of your wealth or property. Surprisingly, approximately 60 percent of American adults have not even created a will, let alone any other type of estate planning document. Everyone deserves to decide how their possessions are passed down to heirs, but these decisions are left to state law when a person passes away without any estate planning instruments in place. If you are ready to start making your estate plan, you may be wondering who you should choose as the executor of your will. The executor has many key obligations, so it is important to choose someone who can fulfill these duties.

Completing Your Final Affairs

An executor is the person responsible for finalizing a deceased person’s worldly affairs. Executors, also called personal representatives, have a legal duty to act in good faith and with integrity on behalf of a deceased person. Executors have many responsibilities, including but not limited to:

  • Managing the deceased person’s property and belongings until they are distributed to heirs
  • Supervising the distribution of the deceased person’s property as per the directions contained in the will, or if there is no will, according to intestate succession law
  • Filing the will in the local probate court
  • Representing the estate in court
  • Terminating credit cards and notifying the deceased person’s bank of his or her death
  • Contacting the Social Security Administration and other governmental agencies regarding the death
  • Establishing a bank account for incoming funds and bill payment
  • Paying the deceased person’s bills such as mortgage payments, utility bills, and homeowner’s insurance premiums using estate funds and
  • Paying the deceased person’s debts and taxes

The person you name as the executor of your estate has a large responsibility, so it is important to choose someone who you think can sufficiently handle executor duties. Many people choose a spouse, sibling, or adult child to be the executor of their will but the executor does not have to be a blood relative.

Contact a Wheaton Estate Planning Lawyer

Estate planning can be a complex process with many elements that require legal guidance. If you are ready to draft your estate plans, turn to the trusted DuPage County estate planning attorneys at Stock, Carlson & Duff LLC to get the help you need. Our lawyers each have an impressive 40 years of legal experience and we are prepared to handle even the most complicated estate planning issues. Call our office at 630-665-2500 today and schedule a confidential consultation to discuss your needs.

Sources:

https://www.aarp.org/money/investing/info-2017/half-of-adults-do-not-have-wills.html

https://www.kiplinger.com/article/retirement/T021-C032-S014-7-tips-for-choosing-the-right-executor.html

On What Grounds Can a Will Be Contested?

contested, DuPage County estate planning lawyersOne of the most critical reasons it is important to work with a lawyer when drafting a will is that a will can be formally challenged, or contested, if it does not meet certain criteria. If a will is successfully challenged, then some or all of the directions for property distribution contained within the will are rejected. Instead, the testator’s property is distributed according to state law. An individual cannot contest a will simply because he or she considers it to be unfair or is unhappy with his or her share of the inheritance. Read on to learn about the grounds or reasons that a person may contest a will in Illinois.

Lack of Testamentary Capacity

“Testamentary capacity” refers to person’s cognitive abilities. A testator must be of sound mind in order to legally approve of the terms contained within his or her will. If a person lacked testamentary capacity when he or she agreed to the will, the will may be considered invalid. If a person suffers from Alzheimer’s disease, dementia, or another cognitive health issue and wishes to draft an estate plan, he or she should seek legal guidance from an experienced lawyer so that steps can be taken to prevent his or her will from being contested in the future.

Undue Influence

In order for a will to be valid, the testator must have freely and voluntarily agreed to the terms contained within the will. If the testator was coerced, tricked, or manipulated into agreeing to the provisions in his or her will, the will is not valid. Undue influence is often a concern when a particular person has virtually unlimited access to an aging or ill testator.

For example, one section of the Illinois Probate Act deals with suspicious property transfers to non-related caregivers. If an individual leaves more than $20,000 to a non-related caregiver, such as a home health aid, this transfer is presumed to be void. If the will or other property transfer instrument is challenged in court, the caretaker is obligated to prove to the court that the transfer was not the result of fraud or undue influence.  

Fraud and Forgery

If a will is created through fraud, the will is not valid. One example of fraud occurs when a beneficiary lies to the testator in order to get the testator to increase his or her inheritance. Another example of fraud occurs when a beneficiary forges the testator’s signature or changes the contents in the will without the testator’s consent. It can be very difficult to prove a will was affected by fraud once the testator has passed away. Contesting a will based on fraud will require help from a skilled attorney.

Contact a Wheaton Will Contest Attorney

If you have reason to believe that your loved one’s will is invalid or you wish to draft your will, trust, or other estate plan, the skilled DuPage County estate planning lawyers at Stock, Carlson & Duff LLC can help. Call our office at 630-665-2500 and schedule a confidential consultation to discuss your needs today.

 

Sources:

http://www.ilga.gov/legislation/publicacts/fulltext.asp?Name=098-1093

https://www.thebalance.com/what-are-the-grounds-for-contesting-a-will-3505208

The Many Benefits of Drafting a Living Will

living will, DuPage County estate planning lawyersA living will is a type of advance health care directive that allows a person to make decisions ahead of time about their wishes regarding medical treatments and end of life care. It is not a pleasant thought to have, but have you ever wondered what would happen if you were incapacitated and could not express your wishes regarding the type of medical care you do and do not want to undergo? For example, if a serious car accident leaves you in a permanent vegetative state, would you want to be kept alive via a ventilator? It can be very emotionally taxing to make the decisions contained in a living will, however, doing so means that your surviving loved ones will not have to make these decisions on your behalf.

A Living Will Lets You Make Decisions About Your Future Medical Care

In a living will, you describe the medical treatments you do and do not want to receive if you become incapacitated and cannot specify this information yourself. Medical treatments commonly discussed in a living will include dialysis, mechanical ventilation, cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR), tube feeding, antibiotics and antiviral medications, and palliative care. You will also be able to dictate if you would want to be allowed to spend your last days at home. Many people have strong feelings about organ, tissue, or body donation. In your living will, you can specify that you only wish to be kept on life-sustaining machines for the purposes of organ donation. If you wish to donate your body to a university or other donation program, you will also be able to specify this in your living will, as well as in other estate planning documents.

Your Loved Ones Will Not Be Burdened With Making Your Medical Decisions

Extensive legal battles can result from family members that disagree about an incapacitated loved one’s medical care. Many people remember the events surrounding the death of Terri Schiavo in 2005. The young woman had suffered severe brain damage and was not expected to ever recover from a persistent vegetative state. Her husband wanted her feeding tube removed so that she could pass away, but her parents fought aggressively to keep her alive. Disagreements like these can be avoided when an individual has a living will. Instead of family members having to guess what type of end-of-life care you would have wanted, they will be able to follow your directions.

Contact a DuPage County Living Will Lawyer

By taking the time now to develop a living will, you can save your loved ones a great deal of stress and anxiety in the event of a tragedy. For help deciding what types of estate planning documents best fit your needs, assistance with drafting a living will, and more, contact a Wheaton estate planning attorney at the law firm of Stock, Carlson & Duff LLC. Call 630-665-2500 to schedule an initial consultation.

 

Sources:

https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/consumer-health/in-depth/living-wills/art-20046303

https://time.com/3763521/terri-schiavo-right-to-die-brittany-maynard/