You’ve Been Named Executor: Now What?

When an individual is named as the executor of a deceased person's estate, he or she is responsible for winding down the decedent's affairs. This includes protecting the assets of the estate, notifying creditors and beneficiaries, settling debts and paying the taxes owed by the estate, and distributing property to the beneficiaries. For those who have never executed a will before, the position can be challenging and a full understanding of the duties and liabilities of an executor is vital. If … [Read more...]

The Biggest Threat to Your Potential Inheritance Might Surprise You

Family feuds and disagreements over the distribution of an estate are an even bigger threat than taxes when it comes to an individual's inheritance. Whether the family is united or divided, it is essential to clarify even the tiniest details during the estate planning process. If that has not happened and the individual is already deceased, working closely with a probate lawyer is the best way to ensure an equitable division of assets before disagreements grow into legal battles with loved … [Read more...]

Dying Without Direction (The Nasty Consequences of Dying Without a Will)

Drafting a will is arguably the most significant stage of the estate planning process and failure to create one often comes with nasty consequences. When someone dies, the assets that are left behind are typically distributed to heirs. When a will is not available, decisions about who will receive property, who will take care of the kids, and even who will execute the deceased's estate are left up to the state. Dying Intestate in Illinois For those who are thinking about a will, people who … [Read more...]

These Six Types of Property Won’t Need to Go through Probate

Non-probate assets are types of property that won't have to go through the probate process after a person dies, and will instead pass directly to the intended heirs shortly after death. Avoiding probate saves time and money, but non-probate property can sometimes pass to unintended beneficiaries and creditors. Careful estate planning is essential to avoid probate and still protect assets from transferring into the wrong hands. Which Assets Are Not Generally Subject to Probate? Transfer or … [Read more...]

When a Spouse is Excluded from a Will in Illinois

In general, a testator in Illinois can disinherit anyone – including a spouse. In fact, Illinois is one of the few states that allow married people to use estate planning techniques to ensure there is no eligible property left for surviving spouses claiming renunciation shares. Under Illinois law, however, excluded spouses may still be able to claim a portion of the probate estate. Prenuptial Agreements Take Precedence When the terms of a prenuptial agreement conflict with a will in Illinois, … [Read more...]

Bits of Wisdom from an Estate Planning Attorney

Probate is easy to avoid with adequate planning and foresight. Transferring assets, designating beneficiaries and taking advantage of a few estate planning tools can help ensure that people avoid probate. Probate Can Be a Long, Expensive Process Probate is a legal process that decides how a person's assets are to be distributed upon death. Although probate is often a routine procedure, it can become expensive and drawn out if putative heirs (people who were excluded or under-included) contest … [Read more...]

Choosing the Right Probate-Avoidance Method

The probate-avoidance strategy decedents use can determine if their heirs are burdened with debt. The heirs of a person who dies with debt are responsible for settling those debts. The estate is responsible for settling the final affairs (i.e., debts, tax obligations, etc.) of the decedent and the remainder is distributed to the decedent’s heirs in accordance with the decedent’s instructions or state law if there is no will. However, in some circumstances, the heirs can be saddled with the … [Read more...]

3 Common Myths About Probate Law

Probate is a technical and often misunderstood area of the law. Here are some of the more popular probate law myths. 1. There Will Be a Reading of the Will Many fictitious depictions of probate law include a reading of the will, but in reality, there won’t be an actual reading with your attorney or representative. While readings may have taken place more often in days of illiteracy, they are far less likely to be done today unless it’s absolutely required for the beneficiaries. Typically, … [Read more...]

Small Estate Affidavits for Decedents Who Lived the Simple Life

Large estates can become extremely complicated when loved ones pass away if thorough planning has not been completed. But smaller estates can often avoid the hassles of a lengthy probate process. While many individuals spend their lives accumulating significant amounts of land, real estate, collectibles and other items of monetary value, others either downsize to achieve a simpler life or never establish a large estate to begin with. For deceased individuals who did not have a high value estate … [Read more...]

Requirements for an Illinois Will

According to a 2016 Gallup poll, only 44% of Americans have a will. Too often people believe that they either do not have adequate money or assets to warrant a will or that they will have plenty of time to write one later. The main problem is that wills do more than handle assets after a person passes. Wills specify who will become the guardian of any dependents of the deceased and how the deceased's body will be handled, among other non-asset related issues. They also provide comfort and … [Read more...]

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