Ernie Banks’ former team settles the late player’s funeral debts

The owner of a funeral home that recently filed a claim against the estate of Chicago Cubs icon Ernie Banks due to unpaid memorial expenses said everything was settled by the team and its owner, The Root reported on March 7.

The cost of Banks’ funeral reached $35,000, which the former baseball legend’s estate owed to Donnellan Funeral Home. Fortunately, the Chicago Cubs and the Ricketts family, the team’s owner, were quick to address the issue. Donnellan’s filing for a $35,000 claim coincided with an ongoing probate battle that involves Banks’ widow, Elizabeth Banks, and his longtime caregiver, Regina Rice.

Ernie Banks, named Mr. Cub and Mr. Sunshine, died at the age of 83. When his will was changed to give Rice full control over his estate, the legal battle was initiated. His estate was assessed by Rice’s camp to be worth $16,000, to which a judge demanded a full accounting.

Estate disputes like this may put you and your loved ones’ financial future at great risk. If you need an assertive, dedicated, and well-experienced probate attorney to advocate for your rights and interests, the legal team at Peck Ritchey, LLC, might be of help. Call our Chicago office at (855) 328-5787 to learn more about taking legal action.

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Estate Arguments: When Should You Contact a Probate Attorney?

Estate PlanningThere can be a myriad of factors the can cause a dispute over a deceased person’s estate.

Perhaps there is an issue with the will. Do you suspect it was signed under questionable circumstances, like after a diagnosis of Alzheimer’s disease? A Chicago probate attorney can investigate the legitimacy of the will to help ensure that the rightful beneficiaries obtain what was promised to them. The attorney will go to probate court to contest the will and then inspect if it is valid.

It takes a while to file the necessary paperwork, close accounts, and sell off property after an individual passes away. Estate administration is a time consuming and tedious process. Sometimes, unfortunately, the person responsible for handling the distribution of a deceased person’s property and assets may not be qualified; other times he may take money for himself instead of distributing it to the rightful beneficiaries. If you are an heir or beneficiary of a person who passed away, and suspect that something isn’t right, it would be well advised to consult with a Chicago probate attorney.

A probate attorney can challenge any aspect of a decedent’s estate. Probate lawyers can get the court to step in to supervise the administration of the estate. This would mean that an inventory would have to be made as well as an accounting of all the financial transactions. This will better allow the court to see if there are any improprieties or mistakes in handling the deceased person’s final accountings. This would also force the administrator to get permission from the court to do anything related to the estate; the administrator would have to get the court’s permission to sell off property, give away assets to beneficiaries or to close accounts.

After a loved one dies, it can often be a trying time for anybody close to that person. If you are questioning or arguing with family and friends about the deceased’s final wishes, then it’s time to connect with a Chicago probate attorney. Peck Ritchey, LLC’s attorneys will provide a free 30-minute phone consultation. Put your mind at ease and call 312.201.0900.

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Will Contests

Depending on when a will was written there are often questions or disputes over the estate and final wishes of the family member who passed away. Perhaps the will document is 30 years old and didn’t account for a new business or updated beneficiaries.  Or maybe a will was drafted 30 days ago, but the person had Alzheimer’s disease.

In either circumstance, litigation will likely be the end result.

Chicago elder law firm Peck Ritchey, LLC handles disputed accountings, recovery of assets, claims, heirship disputes, and scores of other potential estate or guardianship litigation. The attorneys of Peck Ritchey, LLC are recognized leaders in estate, trust and guardianship litigation. For example, Kerry Peck was asked by the Illinois Institute of Continuing Legal Education to author chapters on Will Contests and Guardianship.

What can you expect when contesting a will?

Once you hire a litigation attorney, he or she files the appropriate paperwork.  Then in discovery your attorney will gather information to determine the validity of the dispute; this can include depositions and subpoenas for various documents.  

There are several possible outcomes of a will contest, including going to trial, settling out of court, having the case dismissed or voluntarily withdrawn.  Having an experienced litigation lawyer on your side is essential to help ensure your loved one’s final wishes are met.

If you are questioning any aspect of your family member’s will, contact a Chicago litigation lawyer at Peck Ritchey, LLC for a complementary 30 minute consultation at 312.201.0900.

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It Doesn’t Matter How Wealthy You Are…All Seniors are Susceptible to Exploitation

Once again, our blog draws us into another news story making headlines and reminding us no senior is safe from exploitation.

Forbes contributors Danielle and Andy Mayoras wrote a recent article on L’Oreal heiress Liliane Bettencourt being determined mentally unfit to manage her affairs by the French court. Before the ruling, Bettencourt had already been financially exploited, with more than one billion dollars being stolen from her estate by her photographer and close friend. She had also changed her will in the process leaving everything to this close friend and had not been paying taxes on her money. The court appointed Bettencourt’s children to control her estate.

According to the article, Bettencourt is number 15 on Forbe’s billionaires list. Yet, even with all the money in the world to hire attorneys and financial planners- she was taken advantage of. Therefore, lets take a look at some of the obstacles Bettencourt faced, that most seniors do, and how you can protect and prepare yourself.

The person exploiting Bettencourt was a “close friend”.

This may come as a suprise to you, but it is not the unknown criminal that is robbing our seniors. Most abuse cases are perpetrated by the people closest to the the senior: caretakers, children, and friends.  While you are creating your estate plan, remember: who do you trust to make decisions that are best for YOU and cares more about YOU and YOUR well being rather than your money. Also, update your estate plan every few years- circumstances change!

Bettencourt does not want her daughter to control her estate.

No one wants to lose control of making their own decisions. Guardianship trials can often tear families apart deciding whether mom or grandma really needs a guardian – and if so, who should it be? Although the senior you love may not agree with you dragging them into court, keep reminding yourself, and them- it is for their best interest. Also remember, even though you are guardian, you should still consider what your loved one prefers- where does SHE want to live? What would SHE want to do with her money? (i.e. art classes, caregiver preferences.)

Bettencourt changed her will leaving everything to her photographer/close friend.

Often a diagnosis of dementia can come AFTER it is revealed that someone has been financially exploited or unduly influenced to change their will. This is where it is imperative that we take a look at the ethics of the attorney who agreed to draft a new estate plan when the creator did not have capacity. Also, who were the witnesses present? These issues all can come up in court during the guardianship trial or even after death in a will contest.

Bettencourt had not been paying taxes on her money.

Often without a guardian or power of attorney, seniors with dementia can get into a lot of financial trouble on their own. They can forget to pay their bills, mortgage and/or taxes. If you have a loved one who is independent, you have several options to ensure their finances are being remembered. There are companies you can hire that will work with seniors just to pay bills. Also, a power of attorney for property can also authorize a TRUSTED loved one to assist with finances. If the senior already has dementia, guardianship is the best option to ensure all their financial decisions are taken care of.

*For the full Forbes article, CLICK HERE.

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Consulting With Chicago Estate Attorneys: 4 Tips That Can Help You Prepare For The Future

Young people tend to think they’re invincible and most don’t want to look too far into the future, reasoning that they have years to prepare for retirement or write a will. Unfortunately, unexpected circumstances can crop up at any time, and if you aren’t familiar with estate planning or wills, you may find yourself caught off guard. You may be years away from retirement, but understanding Chicago elder law issues will be crucial if your parents need assistance or you become incapacitated or pass away suddenly.

Don’t wait until it’s too late to prepare sufficiently for the future. An estate attorney in Chicago can help you prepare for the unexpected by assisting you in the preparation of an iron-clad will, guiding you through the legal ramifications of guardianship of your parents or elderly loved ones, and protecting your property, assets and children in the future.

Chicago Elder Law Consultations – The Time Is Now

Don’t make the mistake of thinking that having a Chicago will attorney isn’t relevant to your own family just because you’re young. Consulting with an elder law attorney can help you prepare for the future by giving you an understanding of all the legal issues involved in setting up an estate, writing a will, and stipulating guardians for your children if you pass away while they are minors.

You can also learn a great deal about issues surrounding becoming a legal guardian for loved ones who are already entering their twilight years. If you have a parent or parents who will need assistance in the near future, meeting with a Chicago will attorney or Chicago estate attorneys is the first step in preparing the legal documents you’ll need.

You should discuss the various documents you can use to outline a plan for your own care as you grow older. Among the most common reasons for consulting an elder law attorney before you’re retired are preparing a will that clearly outlines who inherits what from your estate, instituting a medical power of attorney that outlines which life saving measures you do and don’t want exercised on your behalf and putting someone you trust in charge of important decisions if you are incapacitated.

Why Now Is Better Than Later: Chicago Elder Law Issues Affect Your Life Today And Tomorrow

Most people don’t like to think about meeting with Chicago estate attorneys, particularly when they are young and have children who are still little. It’s not a comfortable thing to think about, and some people worry that preparing a will is tempting fate. It’s a serious mistake, however, to assume you have plenty of time; unexpected illness or death can leave your children  and  legacy unprotected if you don’t have a will, power of attorney or other estate planning documents in place.

Meeting with estate attorneys while you’re still young is an excellent way to ensure that your children are properly cared for both financially and physically. Establishing a good working rapport with Chicago will attorneys is one of the best steps you can take. Chicago elder law attorneys who prepare estate documents can help you put your finances into proper order in the event you are injured or pass away while your children are young. Chicago will attorneys who are already familiar with your financial situation and your final wishes will be better able to carry out those wishes and protect your heirs in court.

Dying without a will in place or without instructions for the care and placement of your minor children can lead to your children suffering additional financial and emotional burdens they should have never had to face. Chicago estate attorneys can minimize or avoid the probate process.

Estate Administration & Inheritances

In addition to helping you write up your own will or estate plan, Chicago estate attorneys can help you handle the complexities of administering a loved ones estate, should you be appointed executor, or representing you as a beneficiary of any inheritance that comes your way.

Will Contests

Disputes over wills arise every day. They can tear a family apart, particularly if your parents or grandparents died without a will, revised their will suddenly before their death or left behind an ambiguous, difficult to understand will. Scheduling a family meeting with a Chicago will attorney can help clarify inheritance issues and prevent feuds in the future so that your parents can rest easy, knowing you and your siblings will be properly provided for.

Now is the time to consult with a Chicago elder law attorney or Chicago estate attorneys. By having your entire family meet with an estate attorney, you can ensure that three generations of your family are protected and cared for when you or your parents pass away.

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Chicago Probate Attorneys Can Prevent Family Inheritance Feuds

There’s never a good time for family disputes, but after the death of a loved is certainly one of the worst times. Many families find the probate period extremely stressful, particularly when there is a disagreement over the terms of a will. Family members may be contesting the will because they feel they’ve been treated unfairly or because they honestly believe the estate isn’t being handled properly. Regardless of the reasons, a family feud can quickly escalate. If you’re handling an estate in Illinois, hiring Chicago probate attorneys to handle the estate is the best option when things get heated.

Are The Claims Real?

Chicago probate attorneys often see cases in which one child or grandchild threatens to contest a will immediately after it is read to the heirs. Often times this is simply a knee-jerk reaction based on their disappointment and the sorrow of losing someone they cared about or a feeling that the  estate was distributed unfairly and they deserve more. In these situations, Chicago probate attorneys may not be needed, although a consultation with an attorney is always a good idea.

How Much Is Being Disputed?

The larger the estate, the more often Chicago probate attorneys are needed. It’s simply human nature. Greed increases in proportion to the size of the inheritance, and many families who have gotten along fine for years will suddenly turn against each other if a significant amount of money or property is at stake. Individuals are more likely to put serious effort into contesting a will if they feel that they could end up with a significant amount of cash.

Who Is Handling The Probate Process?

If you are  designated as the executor of the will, you will be responsible for monitoring the division of assets. This is a difficult and sensitive situation and you may feel a bit overwhelmed. Hiring Chicago probate attorneys to walk you through the process is one way to protect yourself and see that the probate process is handled properly.

Chicago probate attorneys can advise you on proper legal procedures and make sure that all legal deadlines are met. Handling the probate process is an important responsibility, and you can be subject to legal consequences if you don’t handle the estate correctly. If there are any questions at all about the terms of the will, hiring Chicago probate attorneys will protect you as well as the estate. The cost of hiring probate attorneys is minimal compared to the peace of mind you’ll have knowing you have qualified legal representation.

Some disputes seem inconsequential at first, causing executors to delay in hiring probate attorneys. Unfortunately, even seemingly small disagreements can quickly escalate after the death of a loved one. Hiring probate attorneys before the situation becomes too difficult is the best course of action for everyone involved.

If you are administering the estate and have never handled a probate matter before, hiring probate attorneys can come as quite a relief. You won’t have to worry that you’ve missed a deadline or whether you’ve filed anything incorrectly. Of course, if you’ve already filed paperwork improperly or made other errors before you hire probate attorneys, the cost and time involved in settling the estate will increase. For this reason, it’s best to hire probate attorneys early on.

Hire Chicago Probate Attorneys If You Aren’t Confident Every Step Of The Way

It’s tempting to tell yourself that you can handle the estate, but even minor details can cause significant headaches during the probate process. You’re taking a risk every step of the way if you aren’t familiar with the legal process or there are questions about the will. Good Chicago probate attorneys will clarify each step in the process and smooth the way for you in court. If the will is contested in court, you’ll have the advantage of working with attorneys who are familiar with the estate and the court system.  Chicago probate court can be intimidating; having legal counsel you’re comfortable working with is important.

The death of someone you love is always stressful. You can reduce your stress level and avoid unpleasant complications by hiring probate attorneys at the beginning of the probate process.

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Don’t Let Your Will Become A Battleground: Simple Steps To Shield Your Estate

It’s well known that the death of a relative, particularly one who has a substantial estate, can bring out the worst in some people. If you worry that your descendants or beneficiaries may not see eye to eye, you need to consider safe guarding your estate. In Chicago, estate planning lawyers can walk you through the steps needed to make your last will and testament as clear and ironclad as possible. Some of these steps will seem obvious, but others may surprise you. Talking to Chicago probate attorneys may also help you clarify certain problems in your estate and resolve them.

Keep Clear, Concise Records

There are few documents as important as your will and testament. Careless record keeping or the lack of clear instructions can immediately turn your demise into a war, particularly if you’ve written more than one will in the past. If someone is questioning the validity of your latest will, the executor of your estate or your estate planning lawyers should be able to produce unmistakable proof that the will in question is not only the last one you signed, but that it was clearly your intent that its instructions be followed.

Keep detailed, precise notes of every meeting with your Chicago estate planning lawyers, including any conversations about the content of your will. Record every date and time that you meet with your estate planning lawyers and the result of each meeting. Keep signed, witnessed copies of your current will as well as any prior wills in existence, but make sure you clearly designate which one is currently in force.

Taking notes during meetings with your estate planning lawyers is always a good idea. Trying to reconstruct your conversations after the fact can lead to problems, particularly if others remember the conversation differently. If you don’t think you can take accurate, detailed notes, invest in a small tape recorder or video camera and record the meeting with your estate planning lawyers, keeping the tape or tapes in a safe place with all copies of your will.

Among the records you should keep are any talks you have with your estate planning lawyers, discussions that take place while you’re drafting the will, and any guidance given to you by your will attorney. A detailed paper trail and recordings can combine to ensure that your final wishes are clearly understood by your heirs and estate planning attorneys. Your heirs should be able to produce a definite paper trail that ends with your current will, but don’t neglect leaving copies with others, including your will attorney.

Don’t Let Your Competency Be Called Into Question By Probate Attorneys Or Unhappy Heirs

You’ve probably heard of cases where neglected heirs have called a will into question because they believe the author of the will wasn’t in his or her right mind. Some people contest a will based on the premise that the author was being coerced or unduly influenced when the will was written. To be sure this doesn’t happen with your estate, have a doctor examine you on the day you sign any legal documents, including your will. Have the doctor verify in writing that you are of sound mind and body and keep this document with any and all copies of your will.

The witnesses you choose for your will can also verify your mental state when you sign your will. This is why Chicago estate planning attorneys recommend you have three witnesses or more, rather than the two witnesses required by law. Choose your witnesses carefully; they shouldn’t be strangers to you or each other. Close friends or acquaintances you’ve known for years are the best witnesses, as they can testify at a later date as to your mental state and competency.

Make Sure Your Will Is Clearly Written, With No Ambiguity

Chicago estate planning lawyers have seen many wills that are poorly drafted or unclear. They know how difficult it can be to enforce an ambiguous will and they’ll help you write a will that is crystal clear. One of the most common mistakes Chicago probate attorneys see is wills that were written by individuals using budget, “one size fits all” templates found online. Trying to write a will using generic legal software is also a recipe for a long, drawn-out legal battle over your estate. Always have your will written by experienced estate planning attorneys.

Be Honest When Talking To Your Heirs

Many wills turn into estate battles because the deceased re-wrote his or her will and either didn’t tell anyone, or didn’t explain any changes clearly. While you may want to avoid a confrontation with potential heirs who may be disappointed, it’s always best to be honest. Letting everyone know the specifics of your will can eliminate thousands of dollars in legal fees and prevent an ugly family feud after your death.

You should also make sure anyone you want to disinherit is unmistakable designated as such in your will and testament. Chicago estate planning lawyers can help you deal with this sensitive situation. This will minimize potential disagreements based on someone’s claim that they were accidentally or unintentionally excluded.

Take the time now to meet and work with experienced estate planning lawyers in order to reduce the chances of a protracted battle among heirs later. If your will is concise and clearly drafted, the chances that probate attorneys will be needed is minimized and your heirs will be more likely to abide by your wishes.

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