Tough Questions Your Estate Attorneys In Chicago Will Ask

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Working with estate attorneys in Chicago can be uncomfortable — after all, there are some tough questions that need to be asked and answered. However, the entire experience can be made less stressful if you know what types of questions your attorney will ask. Before you make an appointment with estate attorneys in Chicago, make sure you know the answers to these questions.

Estate Attorneys In Chicago Ask: Who Will Care For Minor Children?

If you have minor children, this is an important question to answer — who will take care of them if both you and your spouse dies? However, having an answer to this question isn’t enough. You should also make sure that the person you name guardian agrees with your decision. If they don’t, your death could be even more stressful as the guardian struggles with their new role and your children struggle with the loss of their parents.

Estate Attorneys In Chicago Ask: Are There Any Other Descendants Or Companions?

If your estate attorneys in Chicago seem to ask the same question again and again, it’s not because they don’t remember your answers! Oftentimes when an attorney asks if there are any other descendants, the answer is initially no. A few days later, however, the attorney receives a call that tells them, yes, there’s a secret descendant. If you have a child from a previous relationship, now is the time to have a conversation. It will likely be uncomfortable, but it can be stressful for your loved ones if this relationship comes to light at your funeral or immediately following your death.

If you have a relationship outside of your marriage, it’s also important to disclose it to estate attorneys in Chicago. He or she will be able to advise you on how to approach this relationship in your will, if you want to at all. If you don’t want to provide to your partner, you’re not obligated to do so. However, letting your estate attorneys in Chicago know about the relationship can help them defend against a will contestation after you’re gone.

Estate Attorneys In Chicago Ask: What About Pets?

Man’s best friend needs a plan for when you’re gone too. If you have pets and want to make sure they’re taken care of after you’re gone, have estate attorneys in Chicago put in a provision for them. You can decide who’s going to care for these pets and even leave funds available for their care.

Estate Attorneys In Chicago Ask: What About Health Care?

Lastly, decide what you want to do in case that you’re left in a vegetative state. Do you want life-sustaining measures taken or do you want ventilators and feeding tubes turned off? Don’t rely on your family members to make these decisions for you, especially if you haven’t made your wishes fully clear. When you spell them out in a health care directive, there will be no question as to what your wishes are.

If you’re in the beginning stages of the estate planning process, these are just a few of the many hard questions estate attorneys in Chicago will ask. Before you meet with one, think about your wishes and how you want your affairs handled after you’re gone.

To meet with professional and qualified estate attorneys in Chicago from Peck Ritchey, please call us at (312) 201-0900.

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After a Family Member Passes Away, Do You Know What To Do?

Estate PlanningA death in the family is one of the hardest times for people. What makes it even more difficult is when families have to deal with paperwork and legal issues for the deceased person and don’t know where to start.

How a Chicago Probate Attorney Can Help:
If the deceased individual planned ahead and had an estate plan prepared, the task of administering their estate can be relatively straight forward. However, sometimes those left in charge of distributing assets to beneficiaries and closing accounts are not comfortable with their responsibility. Other times, people don’t plan ahead or have an outdated will, and the estate administration becomes more complicated.

The Chicago probate lawyers at Peck Ritchey, LLC are experienced in helping their clients with the administration of a decedent’s estate as well as other probate matters. What this means is that an attorney can help his client sell property, transfer assets to beneficiaries, and navigate probate court as needed.

If you have any questions about what needs to be done after a death in your family, contact the probate lawyers at Peck Ritchey, LLC for a consultation.

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What Your Chicago Will Attorney Wants You To Know

Estate Planning DocumentIf you don’t have a will drafted, you may now realize why it’s important to have one. Learn more about what a Chicago will attorney wants you to know regarding creating a will that can help protect your family members from fighting and stress.

Chicago Will Attorney Tip #1: Everyone Needs A Will

If you don’t have a lot of assets, you probably think you don’t even need a will. However, this is completely false! Everyone needs a will. Wills can help your relatives know what you want to do with your belongings after you’re gone, even if this just includes your furniture or other household goods. Without it, your family members could spend time arguing amongst themselves instead of pulling together and mourning your loss. Additionally, when you have a legally binding document from a Chicago will attorney that spells out your wishes, your beneficiaries will be able to access your estate more quickly.

Chicago Will Attorney Tip #2: Use A Lawyer

Everyone has seen the commercials for DIY legal services. This is a terrible idea. These documents may not be binding or they might not address your specific situation. Instead, contact a Chicago will attorney and have a lawyer draft the right type of documents for your individual situation. The cost is often negligible and the benefits can save your family members a lot of heartache after you’re gone.

Chicago Will Attorney Tip #3: Understand What Your Executors Do

Wills must have an executor appointed. This is the person who is responsible for making sure your wishes are carried out after you’re gone. Many married couples choose to name each other as executor, but what happens if there’s an accident and both spouses are killed or one is medically unable to act as the executor? These situations are why it is important to have someone named as a substitute executor.

Chicago Will Attorney Tip #4: Don’t Forget To Name A Guardian And Trustee

If you’re relatively young and have children living at home, it’s vital that you name a guardian for them. If you’re married and both spouses die in an accident, the children could be placed into a state run foster home, especially if it takes a while to contact your next of kin. Additionally, if you’re unmarried and living together, it’s important to name someone as guardian. An unmarried father may not automatically receive custody of his own children, especially if an aunt or grandparent contests the guardianship. For this reason, it’s important to appoint guardians.

If you put assets into a trust for younger children, it’s also necessary to appoint a trustee. This doesn’t have to be the same person as the guardian and many people choose to name a trusted attorney or family friend as the trustee. The trustee ensures that assets are managed well when the children are too young to make responsible financial decisions for themselves.

Chicago Will Attorney Tip #5: Let Your Family Members Know Where It Is

Lastly, it’s important that your family members know where your will is. The days surrounding your death can be stressful and chaotic, especially if it was a surprise. If your family members know where your will is, they’ll be able to make sure your wishes are followed.

If you don’t have a will drafted, let a Chicago will attorney from Peck Ritchey, LLC help create one. When wills are done correctly they can reduce a lot of stress and strife after a loved one’s death.

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Important Questions To Ask Of Perspective Estate Lawyers In Chicago

Estate Planning DocumentLegal proceedings relating to estate matters can often be complex and intimidating, even for experienced attorneys who aren’t familiar with this particular specialty. They can also be especially difficult because they often deal with delicate family matters, both in the planning stages and when a trust or estate must be administered following the passing of a loved one. When choosing between estate lawyers in Chicago it can be helpful to keep a few basic questions in mind to ensure that the attorney you select will be able to offer you the best possible representation.

How Long Have You Been Practicing Law?

This is generally the first question that comes to mind for most families seeking estate lawyers in Chicago. An attorney with a wealth of experience, especially if they have spent a good portion of their tenure focusing on estate planning, will have had the opportunity to be exposed to a wide variety of case details and documentation. Estate proceedings involve a great deal of documentation and wills, trusts and power of attorney forms used by experienced attorneys have often been repeatedly revised to adjust to the varying needs of their clients.

Do You Primarily Focus On Estate Planning?

This question will be of particular importance if your case has the potential to present complications to a general attorney who may have only passing experience in preparing simple wills or healthcare documents. Extenuating circumstances involving family or financial matters, large taxable estates or pre-existing legal proceedings may require the expertise of a specialized attorney who devotes the majority of his or her time to dealing with such matters.

Have You Had Experience In Cases Similar To Mine?

Finding the right match for your individual needs is important in any legal proceeding. Taking the time to go over some of the basic details with perspective estate lawyers in Chicago will help to give you the peace of mind that the lawyer you choose has had experience, and ideally success, in handling similar cases. A reputable firm will be happy to provide you with a listing of cases they’ve handled in the past and provide you with an idea of how the proceedings unfolded.

How Will I Be Charged By Estate Lawyers In Chicago?

While the quality of the representation is paramount, it’s also very important to understand how a given firm’s fees are handled. While some attorneys charge a flat fee, others may bill an hourly rate. It’s also important to find out up front what is and is not covered by any flat rate fee in order to avoid any unexpected charges. Here at Peck Ritchey, there are no hidden costs or surprises, we strive to ensure that our clients receive the best possible representation while being fully informed about our fees.

What Is The Process Moving Forward?

If you’ve determined that a perspective attorney may be a good fit, ask them to lay out the next steps in the process. Having an idea of how different estate lawyers in Chicago might proceed in handling your affairs can give you peace of mind and insight into their particular process. This is also your opportunity to determine if you will be comfortable sharing the details of your life with a given lawyer. The more at ease you feel with the individual handling your estate matters, the more likely you are to be upfront and forthcoming with the information they require to help you make the best decisions possible.

For more information about how Peck Ritchey, LLC can help with all of your estate planning needs, contact us at 855-328-5787.

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Important Questions To Consider When Establishing Guardianship In Chicago

Chicago Elder Law LawyerEstablishing guardianship is an unpleasant, but absolutely vital task for anyone with children under the age of 18. If the parents of minor children should die without naming a legal guardian in their will, the decision of who will care for them is left to the discretion of the courts. In order to ensure that your children are cared for by the individuals of your choice, a legal will with guardianship provisions must be created. But how do you go about making the incredibly important choice of who will take care of your children if the unspeakable should happen? While each situation will be different, here are a few important factors to consider when establishing guardianship of Chicago area minors.

Guardianship In Chicago: Who Would Be Most Able To Take On The Responsibility?

Raising children is one of the most difficult jobs there is. Choosing the right guardian for your child will involve innumerable factors, but selecting someone who is in a suitable position to care for your child or children should be paramount. It’s important to consider the emotional, physical and financial situation of any potential caregiver. While the selection process will certainly be an emotional undertaking, these practical concerns are of equal importance. For instance, in many cases individuals may consider their own parents as potential guardians, but if the children are still very young their grandparents may not be able to effectively care for them until they reach the age of majority.

Will All Of Your Children Live Together?

While most individuals would certainly prefer for their children to be raised together, naming each child individually and specifying where they will live should not be taken for granted. When naming a guardian, be sure to specify that they should be responsible for all of your children. If for some reason your selected caregiver is unable to fulfil your wishes, or is deemed unsuitable by the courts, it’s also important to indicate that all of the children should be placed in an alternate living situation together.

Are Co-guardians An Option?

In many cases, parents may choose another couple as caretakers. If a two-parent home is selected it’s important that both individuals are named in the will to ensure that legal rights are granted to them both.

Does Your Chosen Guardian Share Your Values?

In selecting a person or persons to raise your child, many individuals prefer an environment similar to their current situation. It’s important to consider if the new home you’ve selected for your children will be commensurate with the values and beliefs you hold. For example, if a particular set of religious beliefs is important, those beliefs should be matched in any potential caregiver. The overall personality and disposition of potential guardians should also be considered to ensure they meet your approval.

Will Your Children Be Comfortable In Their New Home?

Finally, it’s important to think of whom your children would be most comfortable with. Ultimately, the goal of any guardianship appointment is to ensure the happiness and wellbeing of the child. If there are family members or friends with whom your children share a bond they should be considered.

In the end, there are countless factors that may play into your choice for guardianship in Chicago, but the expert attorneys at Peck Ritchey, LLC can assist you in ensuring that your children are properly cared for if you should be unable to do so yourself. If you have questions about the legal process for naming a caregiver for your children, or would like more information about creating a will, contact Peck Ritchey, LLC at 855-328-5787.

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3 Instances When You Need A Fiduciary Litigation Attorney In Chicago

Meeting with an AttorneyNot everyone who has been named as a fiduciary representative for a friend or family member’s estate in Chicago needs the counsel of a lawyer. Even fewer require the services of a litigation attorney. But there are a few instances when you need to retain the expertise of a lawyer who is not only skilled in estate planning, wills and trusts, but who is also a litigation attorney. Here are three situations in which you’ll want to contact a litigation attorney in Chicago.

A Litigation Attorney In Chicago Is Essential If…

1. There’s Conflict Over The Will.  The biggest reason for litigation involving a will or estate comes from disgruntled heirs. Sometimes there is no will to speak of. Other times there is a will but the heirs aren’t happy with it. Still other times, the heirs have a problem with the executor of the will. Any one of the instances can result in the fiduciary agent, or executor, becoming involved in a lawsuit.

If you think the heirs are going to be unhappy with you or the provisions of the will, you will want to consult an attorney right away. Whether or not it leads to litigation may need to be seen, but by speaking with an attorney at the soonest possible moment, you can position and protect yourself from being blindsided by a lawsuit.

2. You Goofed. Sometimes lawsuits are filed when the fiduciary agent messes up. As fiduciary you have certain responsibilities to the estate and the court. If you neglect these duties or don’t perform them correctly, you open yourself up to personal liability and may find yourself on the defending end of a lawsuit. If you know you’ve made a mistake contact a litigation attorney at Peck Ritchey, LLC immediately. It’s possible the mistake can be easily rectified without a lawsuit being filed. We can help get you back on track and managing your duties properly.

If you’re unsure of how to fulfill your duties, contact us. We can advise and guide you through the process to ensure you are acting within the confines of the law and performing your duties as intended.

3. You’ve Already Been Named In A Lawsuit. If you’ve already been named in a lawsuit you need to find a litigation attorney as soon as possible. The attorney will work to protect your rights and interests and help you get through the lawsuit with as little damage as possible. At Peck Ritchey we try to minimize litigation at all costs, but if attempts at negotiating a settlement fail, we are prepared to vigorously defend you in a court of law.

At Peck Ritchey, LLC we represent families and individuals who are involved in the litigation of contested wills, trusts, and guardianships. Not only do we represent fiduciaries, we can also advise them and help them fulfill their responsibilities. Peck Ritchey also administers estates, acting as the fiduciary or executor of an estate. To learn more about our fiduciary or estate planning services or to speak with a litigation attorney in Chicago, contact us at 855-328-5787.

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Conservatorship And Elder Law: Chicago Law Firms Can Help You Protect Your Loved Ones

Chicago Guardianship LawyerIt’s a very common situation: Your elderly parents or grandparents simply cannot take care of themselves any longer. Perhaps your mother keeps forgetting to take her heart medication, or your grandfather has become so frail that he can’t move around his home anymore. Perhaps the situation has even progressed as far as full-blown dementia. Whatever the specifics of the case may be, you’ve come to realize that your beloved relative needs someone to take care of her.

So what can be done about that? After all, it’s not like you can just swoop in and take over a grown adult’s affairs without consent. Luckily, there is a specific field of law that has provisions in place for this very situation called elder law. Chicago law firm Peck Ritchey has extensive experience in this field and can help you come up with a solution for how to care for your loved ones.

Conservatorship And Elder Law In Chicago

Obtaining control over an adult’s affairs is known as guardianship or conservatorship. This goes a step further than a simple power of attorney. Conservatorship becomes appropriate only when an adult is determined to be disabled and completely unable to care for himself. There are several different levels of adult guardianship that may be appropriate depending on the unique situation.

It’s important to know right at the outset what type of guardianship you would like to pursue. If full guardianship is necessary, then the guardian, or appointee, would have complete control over the elder’s affairs, including medical and financial details. These duties can be shared with another competent adult as co-guardianship. If the situation does not require such full control, then a limited conservatorship may be the better option. The potential ward may only need help with financial matters, for example, or for making decisions about her medical care. It’s also possible that you may only need to be the conservator for a short period, such as after an illness or surgery.

After you know what type of guardianship will be appropriate, your next job is to prove that your relative is unable to care for herself. The judge will not just take your word for it in such a serious matter; instead, you will need to consult a physician. That doctor will perform a thorough exam of your loved one and provide a physician’s report that includes an explanation of whether he or she believes that the patient is incapacitated and why. Once you have this report, you can file a petition with the court.

What Happens Next?

After you’ve filed the petition, the judge in charge of the case will appoint a guardian ad litem. This is the term for a lawyer who will be responsible for representing the elder’s rights in the case. The guardian ad litem will consult with his or her client in order to form another opinion over whether or not that person should be made a ward.

Copies of the petition will also be provided to the alleged ward and to your other relatives at least 14 days in advance of the court hearing. This way, no one can obtain conservatorship of a senior citizen without the knowledge of the rest of the family. This dramatically reduces the likelihood of elder abuse; for example, someone obtaining guardianship of a wealthy older person and then stealing all of the money.

During the court hearing, your job will be to convince the judge not only that your elderly relative is completely disabled, but that you would be an appropriate conservator. If you can state your case convincingly and have the corroborating opinions of both the guardian ad litem and the physician, then your request will most likely be granted.

Naturally, this process is more complicated than it sounds, and just like with any legal matter it requires scads of paperwork and forms to fill out correctly. And since the laws and regulations vary from state to state, it’s always a good idea to consult with a specialist in elder law. Chicago area law firms will be able to assist you with guardianship cases in the state of Illinois and will be an invaluable resource to you. With the assistance of a qualified attorney, you can make sure that your elderly loved ones are protected. 

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Mistakes Estate Lawyers In Chicago Don’t Want You To Make

estate-planning-peck-bloomIf you’re beginning the estate planning process, you know how important it can be. However, understanding the importance just isn’t enough — you also need to make sure that you’re avoiding these common problems. Before you meet with an attorney, heed the advice of estate lawyers in Chicago and learn how to avoid these common mistakes.

Choosing The Wrong Executor

Choosing the executor of your will is a vital step. This person will be responsible for a number of major decisions, including whether your house should be sold and filing your final federal and state tax returns. The executor will make sure that the wishes of the will are enacted. He or she will make sure that pets and minor children are taken care of according to the will and that assets are distributed in accordance with your wishes. He or she is typically a family member, but it’s possible to name estate lawyers in Chicago or even a certified public accountant as the executor.

Before naming someone as an executor, estate lawyers in Chicago recommend that you ask permission, especially if you’re naming a friend or family member. Acting as an executor can be a major undertaking so it’s important that the person knows what they’re getting into before they volunteer for the job.

Not Including A No Conflict Clause And Not Treating Beneficiaries Equally

Another mistake that estate lawyers in Chicago want you to avoid making is not adding a no conflict clause in to the will. A no conflict clause will help eliminate fighting among family members and beneficiaries. It basically states that anyone who contests the contents of the will receives nothing. It’s an easy way to ensure that everyone gets along throughout the entire process.

Also, treating everyone equally will help ensure that beneficiaries don’t fight among themselves. If you have multiple children, ensure that everyone receives an equal portion of your assets. While it might seem like a good idea to give wealthier relatives less than relatives who aren’t as financially stable, this can create negative feelings and strife between family members.

Not Updating The Beneficiaries In Your Will

Estate lawyers in Chicago also want you to make sure that your beneficiaries are updated regularly in your will. If someone named in your will has recently died, it could cause problems if the document isn’t updated. It’s a good idea to take a look at your legal documents at least once a year to make sure the information is accurate and go to your estate lawyers in Chicago for updates if it’s not.

#1 Mistake Estate Lawyers In Chicago Want You To Avoid: Not Making A Plan At All

The top mistake that estate lawyers in Chicago want you to avoid is neglecting to make a plan at all! People who don’t plan for what happens to their assets after their death are setting their family members up for a nightmare of paperwork and potential problems. They could also lose a large percentage of their assets to taxes and attorneys’ fees. Instead of leaving your loved ones with a mess, make sure that the details are taken care of well in advance.

Avoiding these common mistakes can really help your loved ones through the difficult time after you’ve passed. If you haven’t planned for the future, contact top estate lawyers in Chicago at Peck Ritchey. We’ll be able to ensure your family members are taken care of, even after you can’t.

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Estate Planning Checklist: Vital Parts Of Your Estate Plan

Estate Planning DocumentEstate planning is important — estate attorneys in Chicago will tell you that. However, many people don’t actually realize why it can be so important. Before you meet with Peck Ritchey’s estate attorneys in Chicago, take some time to get to know about the different aspects of a standard estate plan. Each part may not apply to your situation, but some of the most common components of any estate plan are trusts for minor children, a will and a living will.

Estate Attorneys In Chicago Can Help You With A Trust

While many people think that a trust fund is something reserved for the very wealthy, the truth is that anyone with children can benefit from establishing a trust. Minor children are too young to be the direct beneficiaries of a life insurance policy or a retirement account. Instead, parents can place their money into a trust so that the money is held until the child reaches a certain age. To enable access to the funds, a trustee will be appointed with the authority to use the money for the child. Make sure that you have faith in your trustee since he or she will be responsible for keeping the money safe until the child becomes of age. While a child does become a legal adult at age 18, many parents are more comfortable with not releasing any trust funds completely until the beneficiary reaches age 21 or 25. This can help ensure that the beneficiary is financially responsible to handle a large sum of money.

Estate Attorneys In Chicago Prepare Living Wills

A living will is a document that’s only needed if you’re suddenly unable to make medical decisions for yourself. The living will covers very specific situations, such as if you’re unable to breathe on your own or if you require a feeding tube to survive. Spelling out your wishes can help your family if they’re suddenly faced with making serious medical decisions.

Estate Attorneys In Chicago Prepare Wills

Your will is probably the most important part of your estate plan. This tells your loved ones where you want your belongings and assets to go once you pass on. Neglecting to prepare a will is often a cause of family strife, as family members argue about dividing up the assets during an extremely stressful time.

Other Ways Estate Attorneys In Chicago Can Help

A trust, living will and will aren’t the only ways estate attorneys in Chicago can help. Other services include legally protecting assets from Uncle Sam and funeral preplanning. It’s not uncommon for estate attorneys in Chicago to also concentrate in elder law, and many of these attorneys can help protect older adults through guardianships or powers of attorney.

If you suspect you need estate attorneys in Chicago, the law offices of Peck Ritchey can help. We work with clients when they’re going through some of the most difficult times in their lives and we know how important it is to treat each client as we’d like our own family members treated.

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Avoid Estate Litigation in Chicago With These Tips From Peck Ritchey

Estate PlanningEstate litigation is one of the most common types of litigation a Chicago elder law firm will see. Disagreements over the division of wealth or prized possessions can tear even the closest family apart. But these disagreements can be avoided with a little advance planning. A simple will can stop many types of litigation in Chicago from ever starting. While you can never predict estate litigation, you can minimize the likelihood of your will or estate being taken to court by incorporating these tips into your will.

7 Ways To Avoid Estate Litigation In Chicago

1. Keep things equal. The biggest trigger for familial litigation in Chicago is when the children of the decedent are treated unequally. If you want to avoid having your will contested, divide your assets equally among your children. Do not favor one over the other for any reason, including stepchildren. In the eyes of the law, all children, stepchildren or not, have equal right to the inheritance. If you’ve decided to disinherit a child for some reason or another, include that in legal documents or that child will be able to make a claim to your property and assets.

2. Give away prized possessions ahead of time. The easiest way to prevent arguments from breaking out over who gets mom’s fine china or dad’s antique car are to give those possessions to their intended recipients while you’re still alive and able to voice your wishes. If you want certain things to go to certain heirs after you pass, include an inventory of the items along with your wishes for who gets what.

3. Record loans given out. If you have given one child a loan and not another, record it. Spell out the terms of the loan – is the child expected to pay it back, will it be deducted from their inheritance amount or will it be forgiven upon your death? Decide on the terms and include that with your legal documents.

4. Use formal agreements to transfer assets. Trusts and contracts are useful tools to transfer assets to an heir and avoid litigation. Chicago families who have businesses they want to pass on to a specific child often use contract of sale to do so. Contracts of law that are completed when you’re alive are hard to challenge and offer solid proof of your wishes.

Trusts are used in estate plans to transfer real property. A trust allows you to live on the property for a set period of time after which ownership is transferred to the heir you’ve designated. A trust can be enacted any time, even when you’re still alive.

5. Get a doctor’s note. The most common argument we hear in estate litigation in Chicago is that the parent was not of sound mind when he or she made their will or signed their legal documents. The best way to stop this argument in its tracks is to have your attending physician and a psychiatrist sign off on your physical and mental health at the time that you create or sign your will.

6. The “no-contest” clause. If you know that someone will be unhappy with your will and may try to challenge it, add a no-contest clause. These clauses often stop litigation before it starts because they state that any beneficiary who contests the will forfeits his or her interests in it. This is a very effective tool to prevent estate litigation in Chicago, particularly if the expected troublemaker is getting something he or she really wants.

7. Don’t wait. Draw up a will now. Do it while you’re healthy and aware of what your wishes are. If you wait until you’re ill, you are asking for litigation. Someone is certain to argue that your illness made you confused and you didn’t understand what you were doing or they can argue that you were coerced by another beneficiary into doing their bidding. What’s even worse? If you wait too long to draw up your will these things may become true. You don’t want to be in a situation where you could be coerced into doing something you don’t want to do. Get a will drawn up now and prevent the drama before it starts.

Contact the elder law attorneys at Peck Ritchey for assistance in drawing up a will or designing an estate plan. We can help you design a plan that will decrease the likelihood of litigation in Chicago and ensure your wishes are fulfilled.

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