There 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.
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.
Most people can become intimidated the first time they consider consulting with an attorney, especially when the person across the court room is your family. You may not know the criteria to look for to ensure you are hiring an experienced elder law attorney. Always spend time doing your homework, ask for referrals from the Chicago or Illinois Bar Association, check out their website, and ask for a free consultation to ensure you’re a good fit. If things turn ugly in a probate, will, trust, guardianship or estate matter, an experienced will and trust litigation lawyer is a must. Some lawyers have more experience than others in the courtroom, and this experience will be a big asset in your case when they argue for your rights.
The guidance you can get from guardianship lawyers, elder law and probate attorneys can ease the overwhelming tension of a family dispute. Please consider these factors when deciding to retain counsel.
Show me the Money
If there’s the potential for significant amounts of money to change hands, it’s likely that one or both parties will resist settling things out of court. Someone will take the problem before a judge, hoping to maximize their inheritance or monetary compensation and what they feel they deserve – rather than what the drafter of the will or trust intended. In order to ensure your interests are represented and properly communicated according to Illinois law, hire an estate litigation lawyer.
Reading Between the Lines
Has someone disputed a will in which you are entitled to a portion of the estate? Is a power of attorney for health care or property being misused in order to benefit the agent rather than the elderly person? Whatever the case, seek out an elder law lawyer with litigation experience to clarify, defend or refute the interpretation of the documents in question.
Protect YOUR Interests
The minute you learn any other party has retained an estate litigator, or filed anything in Court, you should start looking for a will and trust litigation lawyer yourself. Don’t wait to try and defend yourself. Although you think you may be saving money on legal fees, waiting until the case becomes messy to ask for help may result in the attorney being unable to help you or legal fees mounting more rapidly as drastic measures must be taken. The earlier you hire your own elder law attorney, the more time they will have to properly prepare to defend your case.
Confidence in the Courtroom
Sometimes you just know in your gut that the dispute you’re involved in won’t be resolved easily. In most legal situations, you’ll probably feel a bit overwhelmed standing in front of a judge or working your way through the legal jargon; that’s natural. After all, you didn’t attend years of law school and you don’t have the experience of a practiced will and trust litigation lawyer. Always ensure that the elder law attorney you are hiring has litigation experience in the probate and guardianship courts. Ask if they know the judge that has been assigned to your case, the opposing counsel or if they have argued in both the state and federal courts.
Remember, the only reliable legal advice you can get isn’t through the grapevine or the Internet, but by consulting an attorney yourself.
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.