Robin Williams’ children, widow settle estate dispute

Robin Williams’ children and his fourth wife, Susan Schneider Williams, have finally come to an agreement after a highly publicized dispute over the late comedian’s possessions. The details of the out-of-court settlement were not disclosed to the public, but the lawyers representing both parties in the case have stated that they believe the settlement will appease both sides.

Susan Williams obtained the home in Tiburon that she and the late actor shared before his death, along with the establishment of a trust that will enable her to maintain the property. The case began in December of 2014, when the widow filed a petition with the court stating that some of the actor’s belongings were removed from their shared home without her consent, and asking that the contents of their home be excluded from the items that would be left to his children, Zachary, Zelda, and Cody.

While the settlement is still awaiting court approval, it seems likely that it will be granted as the judge had previously encouraged the parties to come to reasonable terms outside of court. Mr. Williams’ widow and children will surely be glad to finally reach a conclusion in their disagreement over the distribution of the estate so that they can carry on with their mourning.

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How Chicago Estate Planning Lawyers Help Families Young and Old

Chicago Law Firm As one’s family changes over the years, there are many situations for which advanced estate planning can help during an emergency. Whether you are new parents looking for an Illinois will and guardianship attorney for your children or learned of an Alzheimer’s diagnosis in the family, a Chicago estate planning lawyer can help you to plan appropriately for your specific needs.

The Chicago estate planning lawyers at Peck Ritchey, LLC help families plan for future health care decisions, end-of-life planning, general estate planning and administration, and guardianship. Many people are often unaware that an estate planning attorney can also assist with planning for a family member’s mental or physical disabilities.  When an individual becomes disabled, a Chicago estate planning firm can set up a special needs trust, guardianship, and a long-term care plan to protect their assets.

Each family has unique needs and situations. The Chicago estate planning lawyers at Peck Ritchey, LLC understand the importance of having a well drafted estate plan for asset protection in Illinois. It’s the goal for the Chicago estate planning firm, Peck Ritchey, to help their clients make informed choices about their family’s future.

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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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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 (855) 328-5787.

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Think You Don’t Need Estate Attorneys In Chicago? Why Everyone Needs This Type Of Lawyer

Elder Law ChicagoIt’s a common misconception — estate attorneys in Chicago are only needed if you’re extremely wealthy. However, this is completely false! If you have a modest lifestyle and don’t own a private jet or other luxuries, here’s how estate attorneys in Chicago can help you.

Estate Attorneys In Chicago Can Establish A Living Will

Even though it seems slightly morbid, it’s important to think about what happens if you’re suddenly incapacitated and unable to speak for yourself. Whether you had a major medical event, such as a heart attack or stroke, or were in a car accident, it’s important that your family members know how much — or how little — medical care you want to receive. Perhaps the thought of living on a ventilator for the rest of your life bothers you or you don’t want to receive life-sustaining nutrition if you’re unable to eat on your own.

A living will can take the guesswork out of your family members’ hands. They won’t have to worry about arguing over what they think you would have liked, because your living will can make sure everyone knows your wishes.

Estate Attorneys In Chicago Can Establish Guardianship

If you have minor children, do you know what would happen to them if you were to suddenly die? While this is any parent’s nightmare, it’s important to plan for this possibility, just in case. Before you meet with estate attorneys in Chicago, talk to your friends and family members. Ask them if they’re willing to step up and raise your children in case you pass away and then have your attorneys draw up guardianship papers so there’s no question. This important step can help ensure that your children are left in a stable household, no matter what happens to you.

Guardianship also refers to the legal guardianship of adults who are no longer able to care for themselves. Establishing guardianship of an adult means that you’ll be able to make medical and financial decisions for them, but you must be appointed by a court order for the guardianship to be legal.

Estate Attorneys In Chicago Can Create A Power Of Attorney

A power of attorney is a useful document if you’re ever unable to access your money, sign legal paperwork or make medical decisions. A power of attorney can be special or limited. If you decide on a limited power of attorney, your estate attorneys in Chicago will be able to advise you on just what it entails because the power will be limited to the specifications in the document. A special power of attorney will give your agent full power of representation in all situations. If you’re not sure which document is right for your situation, make sure to ask your estate attorneys in Chicago for their advice to make sure that you’re choosing the right one.

Someone with a power of attorney can make medical decisions for you if you’re unable to make them yourself. However the difference between this and a living will is that with a power of attorney, the agent does not have to take your wishes into consideration. If you have a specific way you want medical issues to be handled, a living will is a necessary document.

You don’t need to be very wealthy to take advantage of estate attorneys in Chicago, as everyone should have a living will, establish guardianship for their minor children and have a power of attorney in case they’re unable to make decisions for themselves.

If you’re looking for estate attorneys in Chicago, Peck Ritchey, LLC can help. We can help you understand the complex issues surrounding estate planning to make sure you — and your loved ones — are taken care of.

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Don’t Make These Six Mistakes When Writing Your Will

Estate Planning DocumentIf you haven’t yet prepared a will, you’re probably putting it off because you aren’t sure what to include, how to structure it to protect your heirs or even how to establish a trust for your children. That’s perfectly normal – most individuals are confused by the many laws surrounding a last will and testament, but you can quickly get clarification from a Chicago will attorney at Peck Ritchey. Rather than run the risk of leaving behind a confusing or invalid will, talk to us about having your will prepared properly. We can help you avoid the following common mistakes:

Mistake #1: Neglecting To Assign An Executor Or Chicago Will Attorney

While the courts can appoint an executor for your estate, it’s best to choose a person you know and trust as the executor of your will. Almost any Chicago will attorney can tell you a tale about a court-appointed executor who winds up causing problems because he or she simply didn’t understand or care about the wishes of the deceased person. A Chicago will attorney can help you choose someone who has the right skills, is trusted by the family, and who will execute the will faithfully.

Mistake #2: Trying To Mix Assets

Family fights and bad blood can be avoided if your will clearly outlines what each heir inherits and what should be done with the bulk of your estate. Many people who are executors, however, attempt to mix assets or don’t fully understand the importance of keeping specific bequests separate. If there is an independent life insurance policy in effect or joint accounts that your loved one had with another individual, the situation can be even more confusing. To make sure that you don’t mix assets and that you understand which assets should be included or left out of the estate, consult with a Chicago will attorney.

Mistake #3: Not Making Funeral Plans

This is a crucial aspect of an estate that is often overlooked by individuals trying to write their own wills. They assume that their children or grandchildren will be able to make the funeral arrangements themselves. Sadly, this often leads to unnecessary bickering when everyone is trying to mourn and when most people are particularly sensitive to criticism. One person may feel that a cherry wood coffin and a lavish funeral with hundreds of mourners is appropriate while another heir may feel that their loved one would have preferred a private send-off with minimal fuss. A Chicago will attorney can assist you in outlining your funeral wishes clearly and in detail so that your descendants don’t have to go through the painful process of making arrangements.

Mistake #4: Not Appointing A Guardian For Your Children

No one thinks they will die while their children are still young, but it has happened often enough that every parent should prepare in advance for the possibility. Without stipulating a guardian for your children, they could end up wards of the court and given over to a guardian you would not have chosen because of their age, a fundamentally different lifestyle, or a religious view that doesn’t agree with your own. Talk to a Chicago will attorney at Peck Ritchey about choosing and appointing an appropriate guardian so that your children will be raised in a manner closely aligned with your own beliefs and child-rearing methods.

Mistake #5: Forgetting Fido

Despite their status as members of your family, pets are considered personal property by probate courts. That means your dogs or cats could end up being sold or given away if you don’t specifically leave them to an heir who will care for and love them. A Chicago will attorney may also advise you to leave a specific amount of money to the person who inherits your pet or pets to defray the expenses of caring for your furry friend.

Mistake #6: Not Paying Off Debts Before Distributing The Estate

As the executor of an estate, you may discover that the heirs to an estate are anxious to get their fair share of the inheritance. Often, they will want the executor to distribute the funds as soon as possible, not understanding or caring that there may be substantial debts or obligations that have to be paid for out of the estate before the remainder is distributed to the heirs. When preparing your own will, a Chicago will attorney can assist you in writing clear instructions for paying off debts and obligations from a bank account set aside specifically for this purpose. This allows for quicker distribution of the estate, while protecting executors from liability if additional expenses are discovered.

At Peck Ritchey, a will attorney isn’t just a lawyer who creates a standard document. He or she will be your advisor every step of the way, suggesting ways to structure your estate in order to protect your heirs and ensure that your final wishes are carried out faithfully. Visit our website to schedule an initial consultation.

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Our Probate Lawyers In Chicago Can Help You Avoid Common Executors’ Mistakes

Chicago Elder Law LawyerIf someone you loves trusted you to be the executor of their estate, they have put a great deal of trust in your ability to properly handle everything from filing the proper notices to distributing their property to their heirs. Even if you are familiar with the process, probate lawyers in Chicago can help smooth the way to an easy settlement of the estate. We’ll help you avoid several common estate mistakes by making sure you follow the appropriate steps.

Probate Lawyers In Chicago Will File All The Necessary Paperwork

From obtaining and filing the death certificate to preparing, serving and filing notices, Chicago probate lawyers are familiar with every document that needs to be filed in order to distribute and close the estate. We’ll make sure that notices are placed in the appropriate newspapers and that all potential heirs are contacted as well as debtors and creditors. Our probate attorneys will also use the correct language and form for each document.

We Will Determine What Is And Isn’t Covered By The Will

It’s becoming increasingly common for individuals to prepare a will that covers only a portion of what they want to leave to their descendants. Many people now have separate insurance policies and retirement accounts that aren’t part of their estate. Our probate lawyers in Chicago can quickly determine what is a part of the actual estate and what has to be handled separately. The laws that apply to these accounts can be confusing, but our probate specialists can walk you through the process with ease.

We Aren’t Afraid Of Tax Issues

Estate taxes and the federal laws surrounding life insurance policies, retirement accounts and other assets can be confusing. At Peck Ritchey, our probate attorneys in Chicago are experts at

taking an estate successfully through the complex maze of potential tax issues, protecting the estate from excessive taxation so that the heirs aren’t expected to pay a heavy penalty or excessive taxes.

Proper Interpretation Of The Will Is Critical

Handling someone’s estate also means seeing that their last wishes are carried out properly. This can be an emotionally draining process, particularly if the person who passed away didn’t outline those wishes clearly. If the will has numerous stipulations or is unclear about certain aspects of the estate, it’s best to consult with probate lawyers. Peck Ritchey’s Chicago attorneys have handled hundreds of estates and are proficient at interpreting and carrying out the wishes outlined in even the most convoluted wills.

Distributing The Estate At The Proper Time

Most people want to jump the gun on distributing an estate because they are looking forward to a financial windfall or receiving items of sentimental value. At Peck Ritchey, however, our probate lawyers in Chicago know that early distribution can lead to a variety of problems, including leaving the executor of the estate with responsibility for outstanding debts or obligations that should be covered by the estate. We’ll make sure that all obligations are properly discharged before we distribute the estate in order to protect the heirs as well as the executor.

We understand that as the executor of a loved one’s estate it can be difficult to handle every detail. That’s why working with one of our probate lawyers in Chicago is such a good idea. We’ll handle the details so that you can mourn the loss of your loved one without neglecting the estate or its heirs. Call us today at 312-201-0900 to discuss your estate or that

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Elder Care Lawyers In Chicago: Helping Seniors Protect Themselves And Their Assets

Retirement, long-term care, Social Security, Medicaid. These are just some of the new issues we have to deal with as we age. For many of us, these issues and the changes they bring can be overwhelming and confusing. Elder care lawyers in Chicago can help you make sense of the decisions you have to make and clear your confusion.

Elder Care Lawyers In Chicago Specialize In Issues Affecting Seniors

Consulting a firm of elder care lawyers in Chicago can be one of the smartest moves you make as a senior citizen. These attorneys have dedicated their legal practice to understanding the issues seniors face and developing legal solutions to carry their clients through their golden years while maintaining their quality of life. Elder care lawyers in Chicago work with seniors and their loved ones to develop legal protections that ensure their clients needs are met for the rest of their lives and that their last wishes are honored.

In addition to providing legal services, elder care lawyers in Chicago often tap into their network of senior resources to help their clients manage day-to-day life. These professionals can often be counted on to provide suggestions or recommendations for public and private agencies or services that serve the senior population such as home healthcare assistance, Meals on Wheels programs and transitional housing programs.

Areas Of Legal Expertise 

Since seniors are affected by nearly all aspects of the law, and even some that are unique to older adults, it should come as no surprise to find elder care lawyers in Chicago with a wide range of expertise. In fact, the field of elder law is so broad that it is not unusual for a firm of elder care lawyers in Chicago to employ several lawyers, each with only a few specialties. By setting up the practice this way, the firm can ensure their clients receive expert knowledge and service in very specific areas as opposed to a single lawyer who can provide general knowledge of many areas, but not a high level of expertise in any.

Areas of concentration among elder care lawyers in Chicago include:

  • Estate Planning
  • Wills, Probate and Trusts
  • Guardianships and Conservatorships
  • Healthcare Planning, including End-Of-Life and Long Term Care decisions
  • Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid and other entitlement programs
  • Retirement Planning
  • Asset Protection
  • Taxes
  • Insurance
  • Age Discrimination
  • Elder Abuse and Neglect
  • Litigation

Hands-On Services

Elder care lawyers in Chicago often serve in more hands-on capacities as well. They may act as executors of wills or trusts or be called upon to administer the estate after death. They can guide the estate administrators through the probate process and assist with the filing of inheritance tax returns, resolving claims and fulfilling the wishes of the deceased.

One of the greatest services provided by elder care lawyers in Chicago, however, is simply the advice and support they offer seniors and their families. Elder care lawyers are professionals who understand the unique needs and limitations of seniors and have spent their entire practice designing solutions to seniors’ most pressing legal needs.

If you need to consult elder care lawyers in Chicago, contact the attorneys at Peck Ritchey. We provide litigation and transactional services for seniors covering all aspects of elder law in the Chicagoland area.

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Understanding What Your Chicago Litigation Lawyer Will Do For You

If you’re like most people, filing or being named in a lawsuit is a nerve-wracking time. You are entering uncharted waters with no idea what the outcome will be or how far the case will go. What you want most is a qualified litigation attorney by your side to support you through this trying time. Understanding what your Chicago litigation lawyer is doing on your behalf can go a long way toward easing your mind about the litigation process and the role of the attorney.

Understanding What A Chicago Litigation Lawyer Does

Peck Ritchey’s Litigation lawyers handle civil lawsuits. They file lawsuits and carry them through the legal process. A Chicago litigation lawyer may or may not carry the case all the way to a trial. In fact, the vast majority of litigation cases are settled out of court and never make it to the trial court.

A Chicago litigation lawyer from Peck Ritchey handles the case from beginning to end. After they submit the initial filing, a litigator gets to work gathering evidence, researching case law and developing the case. For plaintiffs, this involves proving that you have suffered a loss in some way. For defendants in Chicago, a litigation lawyer will examine the evidence against you and develop a defense. These attorneys can interview witnesses and take statements, gather documents and conduct fact-finding searches to support their case. Much of their work is done outside of the courtroom and it is not at all uncommon for a litigator to never set foot inside a courtroom or present in front of a judge and jury. Most of their work is done via the phone and through written correspondence. Successful Chicago litigation lawyers are very detail oriented and familiar with the ins and outs of legal filings and motions.

Don’t be surprised if your lawyer recommends settling out of court. It’s very, very common for litigation cases to be settled this way and does not mean your case isn’t valid. Settling out of court is just one alternative to going to trial. It’s usually quicker than going to trial and both parties can still come to an agreement.

If a case does go to trial, the litigator will prepare it for presentation in court by gathering evidence, preparing witnesses and developing arguments and statements. At trial, your attorney will help select the jury and present the case in court, question witnesses and present evidence. They will help work out the settlement and can file an appeal if you lose your case.

The Specialization Of Litigation Lawyers

A Chicago litigation lawyer typically specializes in one or two areas of law, concentrating his or her practice almost exclusively on cases falling into these areas. Before hiring a Chicago litigation lawyer, you’ll want to learn what areas of law they specialize in and make sure it fits your needs. A Chicago litigation lawyer with the appropriate background and knowledge is crucial to the success of your case.

You will find a qualified and respected Chicago litigation lawyer covering all aspects of probate, trust and guardianship litigation at Peck Ritchey, LLC. Contact us at (855) 328-5787 for more information about our litigation services covering all aspects of elder law.

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Where There’s a Will, There’s a Family Feud

 

Most people create a will with the idea that once they pass away, decisions regarding the distribution of their estate will have already been made, therefore, their wishes will be followed and they can have peace of mind.

Unfortunately, this is not always the case.

Unless your estate planning documents: wills, trusts, etc…are drawn up properly (aka: NOT PRINTED OFF THE INTERNET) you may run into family battles and court litigation over who gets what. A carefully prepared and executed will is the ultimate shield to a disgruntled heir.

Tips to Prevent Post-Death Litigation & Create a Rock-Solid Will:

  • All conversations between the will maker and the attorney should be recorded (notes of conversations, cover letters, drafts, emails, phone conversations, etc.);
  • Clearly recognize special relationships in documents naming beneficiaries: step children, domestic partners, long time friends, and other non-heirs with close relationships;
  • If a legal heir is "disinherited" the will should state the name and relationship of each disinherited heir and the intent of the will-maker to "disinherit" each;
  • Keep a copy of the physician’s report of the will maker’s physical and mental condition on the day the will was signed;
  • Keep a list of everyone attending the signing ceremony and everyone who saw the will maker that day;
  • Life-long friends, not strangers, should witness the signing of all estate planning documents;
  • Execution of wills and trusts should be witnessed by more than the number of witnesses required by law (2);
  • Keep copies of all prior wills created.

The best advice is to be completely candid in your estate planning documents. Secrets are never a good thing within a family. If you expect family members to be disappointed, inform everyone of the changes in your estate planning documents in writing. Not every estate can be administered seamlessly, a good elder law attorney will make sure that all the tips I listed above are followed. So call an experienced estate planning attorney to help you navigate through the legal jargon and avoid disputes.

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