How to Avoid Estate Contests

Estate planning can be a complex and time-consuming process that requires compliance with a series of procedural rules. Failing to comply with these regulations can lead to a will being contested, so if you live in Illinois and want to ensure that your own will or trust is created in accordance with state law, it is critical to contact an experienced contested estates attorney who can draft your will or create your trust in accordance with all state requirements.

Precautionary Measures

Although there are some things that a testator cannot control, such as a relative’s determination to litigate, he or she can take steps to make a will or trust as airtight as possible. This in turn, can make it much more difficult for a person to contest the contents of a will, which will save the testator’s loved ones a significant amount of time and money in the long run. Some of the best ways to avoid a will contest in the future, include:

  • Creating an estate plan when you are healthy and of sound mind, which makes it more difficult for someone to later allege that you lacked the capacity to execute a will due to illness;
  • Including a no contest clause in the will or trust, which may have the effect of deterring beneficiaries from contesting an inheritance;
  • Seeking independent legal advice to avoid even the appearance of undue influence;
  • Using a revocable trust, which usually keeps an estate out of probate court;
  • Carefully choosing an executor or trustee;
  • Explaining different or unequal treatment of beneficiaries in a separate letter, especially if an estate plan varies significantly from expectations or treats similarly situated beneficiaries, such as children, differently;
  • Specifically addressing how personal effects, such as jewelry or collectibles, will be distributed;
  • Addressing the effect of lifetime gifts, advances, or loans, including whether a transfer was an advance on an inheritance or if a loan must be repaid with interest or forgiven upon death;
  • Clarifying whether a joint account will become the property of a joint owner;
  • Coordinating and updating beneficiary designations of retirement accounts after important life events, such as divorce, births, and deaths; and
  • Monitoring and updating your estate plan periodically to reflect any changes in the law or important life events for you or your beneficiaries, such as the birth of a child or grandchild or a divorce.

Contact us Today to Speak With an Experienced Contested Estates Attorney

Unfortunately, some family members are determined to go to court over an inheritance, regardless of precautions taken by a testator. However, courts are reluctant to overturn a testator’s wishes and taking certain preventive measures can help convince a judge not to overturn a will, so if you live in Evanston, Glencoe, Glenview, Highland Park, Northbrook, or Skokie and want to begin the process of planning your estate, please contact the legal team at Orlowsky & Wilson, Ltd. Attorneys at Law by completing our quick contact form and we’ll help you set up a consultation with a dedicated and knowledgeable contested estates attorney.

Updated as of July 2019
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