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The Biggest Threat to Your Potential Inheritance Might Surprise You

The Biggest Threat to Your Potential Inheritance Might Surprise You

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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 ones.

The Blended Family

It is common for step-parents, step-siblings, and ex-spouses to lay claim to an individual’s assets when they die. With the number of blended families on the rise, these types of battles are increasingly common. Many times, these claims arise from an expectation that they may receive a substantial financial reward for their efforts. In most cases, these individuals stand to receive little for their efforts.

Drafting the Estate Plan

It is never advisable to die intestate. While investment accounts and transfer on death accounts will transfer to the named beneficiary. These types of accounts are not required to go through the probate process. Other properties are divided by the administrator of the estate. In Illinois, this is the person closest to the deceased.

This could be the current spouse and the individual’s children. In such instances, the spouse gets 50% while the children split the remaining 50%. If there is no spouse or children, then the individual’s parents or siblings can lay claim to the estate. In all cases, outstanding debts and taxes must be paid prior to any distribution of the estate.

Negotiating Distributions

The loss of a loved one is a traumatic experience and it is always best to negotiate rather than litigate. Whether that means dividing interests in a business or distributing an art collection, a probate lawyer in Illinois can help craft a distribution that is fair and equitable to the parties involved.

Updating Estate Plans

A common reason for disagreements is that an estate plan hasn’t been kept up to date. This should happen whenever significant events occur, such as a divorce, birth of a child, purchase or sale of property, opening or closure of a business, or generation of a life insurance policy. When these events occur, heirs should work closely with their loved one and their probate lawyer to ensure the estate plan is current and accounts for these changes.

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