How to Prevent a Contested Estate in Illinois

IL estate planning attorney, Illinois probate lawyer, IL probate attorney, The time after a loved one’s passing is hard for all grieving family members, and it can be even more difficult when disputes arise over the decedent’s wishes or the validity of the will. As you prepare your estate plan, you should consider what you can do to prevent these disputes from happening after your death so that your family remains intact and well-provided for. The following tips will help prevent a contested estate.

Creating an Illinois Estate Plan to Minimize Disputes

Many contested estate disputes happen because family members are dissatisfied with how the terms of the will affect them, while others may be based more firmly on legal grounds. You should, of course, make sure that the terms of your estate plan reflect what you truly want, but there are also steps that you can take to help your family and beneficiaries understand your reasoning and show that you were of sound mind when making your decisions. These include:

  • Considering your family’s wants and needs. You may be able to prevent disputes simply by drafting your will in a way that accounts for the things that are most important to each of your beneficiaries. Consider which of your beneficiaries would be most in need of financial support after your death. If there are certain properties that are important to different family members, try to accommodate their desires when possible.
  • Discussing your estate with your family. The more open you can be with your family about your estate while you are alive, the less likely your will is to shock or upset them after your death. Regular conversations also give you the opportunity to address potential conflicts and can mitigate future claims that the will does not reflect your true wishes.
  • Keeping good records and following required procedures. Creating your will with the assistance of a qualified estate planning attorney can ensure that you follow proper protocol, maintain detailed documentation, and have reliable witnesses to your signings. This can help prevent contested probate on the grounds that the will was not lawfully created.
  • Choosing a trusted executor. Your executor can be a family member or close friend, or it can be an attorney or other professional. Choosing someone who your family members trust may help prevent claims of fraudulent execution or coercion at the time you created your will.

Contact a DuPage County Estate Planning Attorney

It is never too early to start focusing on estate planning and securing your family’s future. When you need a trusted advisor who can help you ensure that your will is valid and provides for all important beneficiaries, the attorneys at Stock, Carlson & Duff, LLC can help. Contact a Wheaton estate planning lawyer today at 630-665-2500.



What Is the Purpose of a Living Will?

living will, Wheaton estate planning lawyerYou may have already considered how you want your assets distributed to heirs after you pass away, but this is not the only issue that estate plans can address. Have you ever wondered what types of medical treatment you would want if you became incapacitated through a serious illness or injury? For example, if you were involved in a car accident and left comatose, would you want doctors to do everything possible to extend your life? Would you want a feeding tube, mechanical ventilation, or other death-delaying procedures? Would you want to let nature take its course?

Through a living will, you can make these types of decisions in advance. This saves your loved ones from being forced to make these decisions for you and also gives you the peace of mind knowing that your medical wishes will be followed.

The Terri Schiavo Case Emphasized the Need for a Living Will

Although it was over 20 years ago, many people still remember the media frenzy surrounding Terri Schiavo. The young woman fell into an irreversible persistent vegetative state after suffering a cardiac arrest at age 26. Her husband believed that Terri would not want to be kept alive via long-term life support and elected to have her feeding tube removed. The woman’s parents strongly disagreed and wanted their daughter to continue receiving artificial hydration and nutrition. The case resulted in a seven-year legal battle.

Even if you do not have strong feelings about the types of death-delaying procedures you do and do not want to undergo if you become incapacitated, making a decision now saves your family from the possible burden of making these decisions on your behalf. You can do so by preparing a living will.

What Types of Procedures Can Be Addressed in a Living Will?

Everyone has their own beliefs about life and death. Some people want every procedure possible used to keep them alive for as long as possible. Others do not want to be kept alive artificially if they have no awareness or quality of life. Through a living will, you can choose the specific medical procedures you do and do not want used in certain circumstances. You can make decisions about procedures including but not limited to:

  • Organ donations
  • Mechanical ventilation
  • Cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR)
  • Tube feeding
  • Antibiotics or antiviral medications
  • Dialysis
  • Palliative care

A living will puts you in control of your future medical care. It may also save your family members from the burdensome task of guessing what types of end-of-life care you would want. To learn more about creating a living will, speak with an experienced estate planning lawyer.

Contact a DuPage County Estate Planning Lawyer

To get started on your living will or for other estate planning needs, contact Stock, Carlson & Duff LLC. Call our office at 630-665-2500 and schedule a confidential consultation with a skilled Wheaton estate planning attorney. We can help find the tools that best fit your unique circumstances.



Same-Sex Couples Still Face Some Unique Estate Planning Challenges

Illinois estate planning lawyersWhile most married couples can benefit from estate planning, it is not a hard or critical requirement. Most often, their assets would go to their spouse upon death, and minor children remain with the surviving parent, as long as the parent does not supersede them in death or die along with them. Even medical decisions are typically deferred to the spouse if one of them becomes incapacitated. Unfortunately, this is not always the case for same-sex married couples. Learn more about the challenges that same-sex couples face in estate planning, and what you can do to protect your family, with help from the following information.

Same-Sex Couple Estate Planning Challenges

Same-sex couples may experience numerous challenges in the event of death or incapacitation of one member. Families that refuse to accept the sexual orientation of their loved one may challenge the validity of a spouse's inheritance; doctors may question the authenticity of a same-sex marriage, which can delay treatment; and even children may be temporarily removed from a loving parent if the validity of a same-sex marriage is questioned. In short, many potential areas can create post-death issues for surviving spouses in a same-sex marriage.

Why the Challenges Continue to Exist

Even though same-sex marriage is now legal in all 50 states, state laws continue to lag – some more so than others. For example, Illinois not only recognizes same-sex marriage, but it also protects the rights of same-sex couples when it comes to adoption. Same-sex couples are also treated the same as heterosexual couples, should they ever decide to divorce. Still, even in states like Illinois, it is crucial that same-sex couples protect their loved ones with an estate plan.

Protecting Your Family with an Estate Plan

Every married couple should have a will in place, but same-sex couples are encouraged to go beyond this basic estate planning document. A trust can reduce the risk of probate challenges, powers of attorney and living wills can reduce issues that may arise in the event of incapacitation, and adoption to ensure both parents are listed as legal guardians are ways that same-sex couples can protect their families from the possible challenges of same-sex estate planning.

For assistance with your estate plan, contact Stock, Carlson & Duff LLC. Our Wheaton estate planning lawyers are backed by over 40 years of legal experience, and we can work with you to develop creative solutions for your unique situation. Schedule a consultation with us by calling 630-665-2500 today.