What You Should Know About Wills and Living Trusts

Illinois estate planning attorney, Illinois will lawyer, IL trust attorney, The process of estate planning can be challenging, depending on the size and complexity of your estate and what you want done with your assets upon your death. Proper estate planning requires a level of knowledge of the various tools, methods, and strategies that are often employed. For example, it is important to understand the differences between a will and a living trust and how those differences could affect your heirs. It is also a good idea to work closely with a qualified lawyer who can provide assistance in meeting your estate planning needs.

What Is a Will?

At its most basic, a will is a legal document that allows you to specify how your assets and possessions are to be distributed. A will can also name a legal guardian for any minor children. An important characteristic of a will is that it is a revocable and amendable document that you can control until your death. It can be updated, altered, or changed to accommodate changing situations, such as the death of an heir or divorce. Keep in mind, however, that there are some major limitations with a will—particularly when it comes to the amount of control you have over your estate after your death. The tax consequences for your heirs may also be significant if your estate plan consists only of a will.

What Is a Living Trust?

Living trusts are generally more complex than wills are, but they offer you more control over your estate after death. A living trust also gives you more control over how your estate is structured prior to your death. For example, you can be the trustee of your own estate and then plan for a successor after death or incapacitation, or you can simply name another individual as the trustee from the start. Like a will, a revocable living trust can be amended, updated, or revoked for as long as the creator of the trust is alive.

Compared to a will, a living trust also provides more privacy regarding the disbursement of your estate, and, in the case of larger estates, it can reduce the tax load for your heirs. Keep in mind, however, that living trusts must be properly funded, and they can be more expensive to set up initially. Still, for those with large, complex, or potentially problematic estates, the cost of a living trust may be well worth the peace of mind the trust can provide.

Contact a Wheaton Wills and Trusts Lawyer

If you have questions about wills, trusts, or any other estate planning tool, the team at Stock, Carlson & Duff LLC is ready and willing to help you. Call 630-665-2500 to schedule a confidential consultation with one of our experienced DuPage County estate planning attorneys today. We will work with you in finding the answers you need and the security you and your family deserve.

 

Source:

https://www.ilga.gov/legislation/ilcs/ilcs5.asp?ActID=2104&ChapterID=60

https://www.ilga.gov/legislation/ilcs/ilcs5.asp?ActID=4001&ChapterID=61

Can a No-Contest Clause a Prevent a Will Dispute?

no-contest, Wheaton estate planning attorneysWhen a loved one dies, the loss can be very difficult on the surviving friends and family members. The intense emotions of dealing with the loss can often make a grieving family member act in ways that would be otherwise uncharacteristic, leading to serious disputes over a variety of matters. A common point of contention is the deceased person’s will, and serious battles can affect the stability of a family for years to come, if not permanently. In an effort to prevent such issues from tearing apart your family after your death, you may wish to consider including a no-contest clause in your will.

In Terrorem Provisions

A no-contest clause is also known as an in terrorem clause, which is a Latin phrase meaning “by way of threat.” Such a clause may be included in your last will and testament to deter beneficiaries from formally contesting the will. Most no-contest provisions specify that if an heir files a contest to the will, that heir automatically forfeits the portion of the estate intended for him or her. The idea is that, if there is a threat of receiving nothing, or a nominal amount like $10 or $20, a would-be heir is not likely to push for more. It is important to understand that a no-contest clause cannot stop an heir from contesting a will; its only potential impact is to what may happen as a result.

A Challenge Is Possible Anyway

Before deciding to include a no-contest clause in your will, you should meet with an attorney to discuss your particular circumstances. In some cases, the amount intended for specific heirs might not be enough leverage for such a clause to serve as an effective deterrent. For example, if you have a large number of beneficiaries each set to inherit $1,000, an heir might be willing to gamble with that amount to try an obtain a larger inheritance. If the original amount is $100,000, an in terrorem provision may be more effective.

Concerns in Illinois

The law concerning the enforcement of no-contest clauses is rather vague in the state of Illinois. At least one court has set aside a no-contest provision on the grounds that the will contest was filed in good faith on the part of the heir. However, by closely with an attorney and employing the proper language in your will, you will be more likely to ensure that your wishes are carried out regarding your estate.

Contact a Wheaton Estate Administration Lawyer

If you are listed as an heir in a will with a no-contest clause, but you have reason to believe the will was not properly executed, contact an experienced DuPage County probate law attorney. We will review your case and help you identify your best option under the law. Call Stock, Carlson & Duff LLC at 630-665-2500 today to schedule an appointment and get the representation you need during a difficult time.

 

Sources:

http://ilga.gov/legislation/ilcs/ilcs4.asp?DocName=075500050HArt.+VIII&ActID=2104&ChapterID=60&SeqStart=10100000&SeqEnd=10400000

http://www.actec.org/assets/1/6/State_Laws_No_Contest_Clauses_-_Chart.pdf

Should My Will Have a No-Contest Provision?

no-contest, Wheaton estate planning lawyerAre you worried about what will happen to your surviving family members after your death? Maybe in the course of your conversations about your estate plan, you have seen warning signs that your children or other loved ones are not thrilled about your decisions. Or, perhaps you are concerned that one of your family members will be overcome by grief to the point where they cause problems without realizing what they are doing.

If you have such concerns, you may wish to consider adding a no-contest provision to your will. A no-contest provision can help reduce the possibility of your will being challenged after your death.

“In Terrorem” Clauses

A no-contest clause is sometimes known as an “in terrorem” clause. The Latin phrase “in terrorem” translates to “by way of threat.” Put simply, a no-contest provision threatens any heir who files a will contest in an effort to deter fighting between family members after the creator the will dies.

It is common for a no-contest clause to state that any heir who challenges the will forfeits the portion of the decedent’s estate that the heir was set to receive. In some cases, such a clause will drop the challenger’s inheritance down to a nominal amount like $1.

The idea is that if there is a possibility that the heir will get nothing, that heir is more apt to accept the provisions of the will, even he or she is not happy with the decedent’s choices. It is important to understand that a no-contest provision cannot legally prevent an heir from filing a will contest. The clause will only impact what happens afterward.

Important Considerations for No-Contest Clauses

If you are giving thought to a no-contest clause, you should talk to an estate planning lawyer before you make any decisions. For a no-contest provision to work as intended, the amount you intend to leave each of your heirs needs to be large enough to create an incentive. If, for example, you named 15 different beneficiaries, each of whom will inherit $20,000, one of them might be willing to risk $20,000 to try to get more through a will contest. If you only name three heirs, however, with each set to receive $100,000, a no-contest provision may carry much more weight.

Keep in mind that the courts have the authority to set aside an in-terrorem clause if a will contest is filed in good faith. For example, assume you are an heir in your father’s will which has a no-contest clause, but you believe that your father was forced to sign the will under duress or undue influence. You could file the will contest and request that court the invalidate the will. Assuming the court agrees, your father’s previous will would likely be reinstated. Even if that document also had a no-contest clause, the court might consider setting the in-terrorem clause aside because you were acting in the best interest of the estate, not just for yourself.

Call a DuPage County Wills and Trusts Attorney

If you would like to discuss your options regarding a no-contest provision in your will, contact a Wheaton estate planning lawyer. Call 630-665-2500 for a confidential consultation at Stock, Carlson & Duff LLC today.

Sources:

http://www.ilga.gov/legislation/ilcs/ilcs5.asp?ActID=2104&ChapterID=60

https://www.thebalance.com/tips-for-avoiding-a-will-contest-3505204