Everyone should have a will in place that will effectively distribute their estate according to their wishes, but many people never get around to it. Despite the difficulty, everyone should prepare a will in order to protect their friends and loved ones. A Chicago estate lawyer can simplify the process and help individuals in a variety of ways in order to prepare a legally binding document that will hold up in court.
DIY Wills May Not Be Valid
It’s tempting to save a bit of money by using an online program or a software template to write your will, but it’s often a mistake that can cost your heirs a lot of money and heartache when your will goes to probate after you’ve passed on. Most programs or kits for preparing a last will and testament are very basic, not taking any number of variables into account. A Chicago estate lawyer is familiar with all of the legal statutes that apply to preparing an estate and drafting a legal will and can ensure that your document is legally binding.
A Chicago Estate Lawyer Will Make Sure Your Directives Are Legal And Appropriate
Although you may want your will to simply say that your entire estate goes to your children, the court will generally consider such a document too vague. Other common issues include leaving an inheritance of money or property to minor children who can’t legally inherit directly. For minor children, a Chicago estate lawyer can prepare a trust that appropriately handles the money until a child reaches a designated age. Trusts can also be designed to protect your estate and provide for someone who is incapable of providing for himself. If you are hesitant about leaving a large estate or large sums of money to other adults, talk to a Chicago estate lawyer at Peck Ritchey about creating an appropriate trust to administer the money according to your wishes.
Leaving Unwell Or Elderly Family Members “Out In The Cold”
When you’re working with an estate attorney, you’ll naturally put a lot of thought into outlining a plan to care for your children, but what about an elderly parent or grandparent who might outlive you? If you are currently caring for them, they could be literally left out in the cold if no one is willing to spend the time or money to care for them properly. Peck Ritchey attorneys have dealt with many estates where the deceased assumed incorrectly that other relatives would be happy to step up and care for elderly parents. A Chicago estate lawyer can help you prepare a plan that addresses these issues and puts aside funds from your estate that will be used for their safety and well-being.
Leaving An Outdated Will In Place Is As Bad As No Will At ALL
A will that you prepared when you got married isn’t good enough if you now have children to raise and elderly parents who need care. Preparing one document and then locking it away because you assume it will serve its purpose no matter how much time has passed is an unfortunate mistake many parents make. Without a document that specifically stipulates who the guardian of your children should be, the courts can step in and appoint a relative who would not have been your first choice for their care. If the years have gone by with the typical births, deaths, name changes, relocations and marriages, a Chicago estate attorney will likely tell you that the will may not hold up in court because the circumstances of potential heirs have changed considerably.
Not Being Specific About Personal Property
You may feel certain that when you pass away, your children and grandchildren will divide up personal items such as jewelry or coin collections in a way that is fair to everyone, but the reality is usually a bit more grim. In some cases, siblings can start a feud over something as specific as who gets your diamond earrings or who inherits your collection of miniature cars. These kinds of arguments can quickly turn into family feuds that tie up your estate in court for years.
Preparing your will should be part of an overall estate plan to protect your assets and your heirs. At Peck Ritchey, a Chicago estate lawyer can be your greatest asset when you sit down to prepare you own will.
Simply writing a will won’t mean your wishes will be honored in probate court when you die. The complexities of probate laws in most states can mean confusion over the intent of your will after you pass away. Estate attorneys can explain the many probate laws in your state and help you structure your estate in a way that will guarantee your assets are distributed according to your wishes. Estate attorneys can also minimize the chance that disputes will be filed by probate attorneys on behalf of individuals contesting your will.
Not Every Will Is Straightforward
Greed and jealousy can rear their ugly heads among normally loving relatives if there is a lot at stake. In many cases, relatives will hire probate attorneys to contest a will that has left them out of the picture. A standard will can be difficult to interpret or uphold in court if those contesting it have hired experienced Chicago probate attorneys. The more scrutiny your will is under, the less likely it will stand up in probate court if you haven’t attended to the details by working with estate attorneys when drafting it.
Estate Lawyers In Chicago Can Craft A Customized Will
Estate lawyers can help write a will that addresses any unusual wishes you might have. For example: If you die unexpectedly and don’t want your children to have full access to your assets while they are still minors. Consulting with Chicago probate attorneys or estate attorneys can help you structure your estate and establish a trust fund or restricted account, protecting the bulk of the estate until your children are old enough to handle it responsibly.
Estate attorneys can also help you address issues such as who will raise your children and what to do with your home when you pass away. There are dozens of other issues to contend with as well, estate lawyers in Chicago or you local area can advise you on how to address these concerns properly.
Death And Taxes: Coping With A Sure Thing
Unfortunately both death and taxes are unavoidable, that is why consulting with estate attorneys sooner rather than later is essential. Inheritance taxes are complex and can vary widely from state to state. Estate Planning attorneys are often also CPA’s and are well versed in tax law issues surrounding wills and estates. They can offer suggestions and can recommend an appropriate tax attorney. Experienced estate lawyers and probate attorneys can help you understand the tax ramifications of your death so that you can prepare now, and have your family protected later.
Using A Standard Will Template Can Lead to Problems
Do not be lulled into assuming that writing a will using a standard template will protect your heirs. Your seemingly simple instructions can quickly mushroom into a family feud or a battle of the probate attorneys. Printing a form off of the Internet does not guarantee your wishes will be followed, the form may not even be legal, may not cover all areas of your estate and even if it does, without an attorney, you cannot ensure you have signed the document properly for it to be recognized by the court.
By planning now and working with estate attorneys can minimize family strife and greatly reduce the chance that your heirs will need probate attorneys to fight for their rights. Protect your heirs properly by meeting with estate attorneys now rather than waiting until it’s too late.
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.