How Contested Wills Destroy Families

The vast majority of wills go through probate without significant problems. But sometimes, there is an issue with how assets are distributed or other will provisions. If this happens, there is a contested will, which can devastate the family. Thus, it is best to conduct comprehensive estate planning that minimizes the possibility of a contested will.

In this blog post, you will learn how a contested will can damage a family and should be avoided with proper estate planning. If you have an issue with a contested will or want to prevent one, our Lincolnshire estate planning lawyers at Orlowsky & Wilson can answer your questions. Our attorneys have years of experience with estate planning and helping Illinoisans avoid destructive will contests.

How Wills Are Contested In Illinois

The Illinois Probate Act outlines how a will can be contested in the state. The law says that within six months of a will being admitted to probate, any interested party can file a petition in the proceeding to administer the deceased’s estate to contest the will.

However, to file the petition, you must have standing. Legal standing means that the party contesting the will has an existing, financial, and direct interest that will be negatively affected by the will being accepted by the probate court. One of the most common reasons a will is contested is a child or spouse being excluded from receiving an inheritance.

How A Contested Will Hurts Families

It is imperative to avoid a contested will at all costs. First, a contested will questions your final wishes and could lead to an outcome you did not want. Second, a contested will can cost your estate a lot of money and may deplete what your beneficiaries receive. Third, a will contest damages and may destroy the relationships among the beneficiaries. Imagine your hard work and financial planning only leading to strained family relations and assets and funds going to people you did not anticipate.

The good news is that proper financial planning with the help of your estate planning attorney can often avoid most will contests. Your Lincolnshire estate planning attorney can work with you in designing an estate plan to reduce the chances of a will contest.

Can A Will Contest Be Avoided?

Yes, in many cases. There are several strategies to avoid a costly will contest that can devastate family relations. They include:

Do Not Do Estate Planing On Your Own

Just making a small mistake in your DIY estate plan can make your intentions vulnerable to a contest by an unhappy beneficiary. An experienced estate planning lawyer can help you create a plan to discourage anyone from suing your estate.

Talk About Your Wishes

Talking with your beneficiaries about what is in your estate plan is critical. You do not have to reveal every detail, but preparing your family for what is in your plan can set their expectations and prevent them from being disappointed.

Do Not Disinherit Children Outright

Entirely disinheriting a child who might squander their inheritance is understandable, but this could lead to a will contest. Instead, consider setting up a lifetime discretionary trust to distribute funds to the beneficiary over time instead of in a lump sum.

Keep Your Will Updated

A proper will is not a ‘one and done’ document. While you are alive, you will likely need to change your will as marriages and divorces occur, children are born, etc. Having an updated estate plan ensures that your wishes will be respected and reduces the chances of a will contest. For these reasons, you should review your will with your estate planning attorney regularly.

Call Our Lincolnshire Estate Planning Lawyers Today

After a lifetime of work and sacrifice, most people want to ensure their loved ones receive their fair share of the estate. However, a will contest can derail your best-made plans and should be avoided whenever possible. You can often avoid a will contest with comprehensive estate planning with the assistance of a Lincolnshire estate planning lawyer at Orlowsky & Wilson. Call (847) 325-5559 for a private legal consultation.

Updated as of July 2019
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