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IL estate lawyerEven under the best of circumstances, probate can be a complicated legal procedure. Months or even years could pass between the day your family member’s will (if there is one) is submitted to the probate court to the day you are able to collect your inheritance. There are a lot of steps involved with probate, all of which need to be carefully followed to avoid delays or unnecessary expenses. The sheer complexity of probate means this process is generally best supervised by a qualified attorney who is familiar with the procedures and can handle any potential pitfalls. If you anticipate any problems popping up, it may be wise to speak with a lawyer before initiating Illinois probate.

What Issues Might Make Probate Harder for My Family?

Whether you are getting ready to begin the probate process or debating whether you should try to avoid it in your estate plan, it is a good idea to be informed of some potential issues that can slow down or complicate probate. Any of the following concerns could lead to challenges in probate court:

  • Intestacy - Probate can go more smoothly when the decedent has offered guidance on how his estate property should be distributed in the form of a will. When there is no will, there is the additional step of determining who is entitled to inherit under the laws of intestacy.
  • Large estate - Trying to move a large estate through probate, especially one that is subject to the federal estate tax, can be quite a long and complicated process. All assets belonging to the estate must be accounted for and appropriately distributed, which can become time-consuming and tedious when the estate holds significant assets. However, in the absence of a trust, surviving loved ones may have no other choice.
  • Contests - There is always the possibility that a relative or other legitimately interested party will contest the will. Whether the challenger has a valid reason for bringing litigation or not, a will contest brings the probate process to a grinding halt. Significant expenses can be incurred in the course of addressing a will contest.
  • Executor - The personal representative named in the will may not be willing to carry out his duties. Perhaps he was unaware that he had been appointed, or the situation has changed and he is no longer willing or able to serve as personal representative. This can slow down the process, as the court may have to step in and replace an unwilling or uncooperative executor.

If you anticipate facing any of these challenges during probate, it may be a good idea to speak with an attorney well in advance to prepare. Or, if you are interested in learning how you can avoid these probate pitfalls through estate planning, a qualified attorney can tell you more.

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IL estate lawyerJamie Spears, Britney Spears’s father, is no longer serving as her conservator. His suspension came amid allegations that he had mishandled his daughter’s funds. The conservatorship gave Jamie Spears almost complete control over Britney’s finances and many other aspects of her life. The decision to place Britney under a conservatorship was controversial in the first place. Although the singer was undoubtedly experiencing mental health problems, legal questions remained about whether her public breakdown truly constituted the level of incompetency required to impose a conservatorship.

What did Jamie Spears Legally do Wrong?

Jamie Spears has faced a lot of public backlash about how he managed his daughter’s life during the conservatorship. Allegations that he forced Britney to keep performing for profit, placed unreasonable restrictions on her personal life and mismanaged her funds abound.

Conservators are fiduciaries, meaning that they are obligated to put aside their own personal interests and act solely in the best interests of the person who is the subject of the conservatorship. Britney Spears alleges that he has done the opposite. The star alleges that rather than helping Britney, all Jamie has done is take away her freedoms - and her money.

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Posted on in Estate Planning

IL injury lawyerFrankly, everyone who is able to make a living will should have one. No one can predict the future - even young and healthy individuals can find themselves in a situation where they are at least temporarily incapacitated and unable to make medical decisions for themselves. There are some individuals for whom having a living will is particularly important. If you are interested in creating a living will, you will want to work with a qualified attorney to make sure all your wishes are expressed accurately in the document.

When Should I Make a Living Will?

The short answer is, as soon as you have the opportunity. In the event that some unforeseen medical emergency happens and you are not able to communicate or make your own medical decisions, a living will tells healthcare providers in advance what your wishes are. Living wills can instruct doctors to withhold futile life-preserving care in the event of terminal illness, but can also include provisions about keeping you comfortable or your religious preferences. You can also use a healthcare power of attorney to designate the person you would like to make decisions for you if you become unable.

While it is best for everyone to have a living will in place, just in case, for some people it is particularly important. It is urgent that you complete a living will if you are facing any of these situations:

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Barrington estate planning attorneyBoth wills and trusts are important estate planning documents that can be used to govern what happens to your property after your death. Each comes with distinct advantages and disadvantages. It is best to speak to a qualified estate planning attorney who can help you design a comprehensive estate plan—which may include one or both documents—based on your unique situation.

What Are the Main Differences Between Wills and Trusts?

Wills and trusts are both legal documents that allow you to dictate what will happen to your property after you have died. However, there are significant differences.

For example, wills and trusts may begin to take effect at different times. A will has no legal effect until the person who created it has died. A trust, on the other hand, may have immediate legal significance depending on the type of trust used. In some cases, trusts can allow you to protect or begin distributing your assets even during your lifetime.

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Barrington estate planning lawyerManaging an estate takes a great deal of responsibility and good decision-making capabilities. This is true throughout the entire estate planning process; however, it becomes especially significant toward late adulthood. Unfortunately, not all individuals are capable of managing their estate effectively on their own. In these instances, it may be necessary to request and appoint guardianship over the estate owner. Through diligent research, effort, and collaboration with an experienced elder law attorney, successful guardianship is possible.

When is Estate Guardianship Necessary?

In Illinois, guardianship may be granted in instances where an individual, known as the ward, is not capable of making reasonable decisions regarding their financial or personal needs due to a physical, mental, or developmental disability. Under the Illinois Probate Act, the courts can modify the aspects of the appointed guardianship to meet the specific needs and capabilities of the ward. Guardianship is meant to safeguard individuals who cannot properly care for themselves or their property.

Court-appointed guardianship occurs most often in two situations: when a special needs child becomes an adult, or when an elderly individual loses decision-making abilities due to dementia. It is also possible for a guardian to be appointed for other concerns, including gambling habits, idleness, and excessive alcohol or drug use.

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