Testators create estate plans for several reasons, but one of the most common is to ensure property owners can decide what happens to their assets after they die. However, this goal can be thwarted by beneficiaries and heirs who may claim a will does not actually represent a person’s true feelings.
Fortunately, there are a few estate planning tools testators can use to help prevent this. If you have an estate plan in place or are just beginning the estate planning process, you should speak with a Northbrook contested estates lawyer who can help give you the peace of mind that comes with knowing your loved ones have been provided for and your property will be distributed in accordance with your wishes.
Testators who fear their relatives will contest their own estate upon their death often choose to include no-contest clauses in their wills. These provisions act as a strong deterrent to will challenges, as they can penalize or even disinherit anyone who challenges a certain will in court. It’s important to note that while no-contest clauses could keep an heir from trying to challenge a will, they aren’t always an airtight solution in Illinois. This is because these provisions are strictly construed by Illinois courts. In fact, courts are often willing to set aside no-contest clauses if a will contest was filed in good faith.
Opting for a Trust
There are a variety of benefits to creating a trust. For instance, assets kept in a trust are not subject to probate. Furthermore, trusts, unlike wills, are not considered public record, meaning the parties have much more privacy. Trusts also involve the continued participation of the property owner, making it more difficult to prove incapacitation. When taken together, all these characteristics make it much harder to challenge a trust than a will.
Talking to Your Heirs
One of the best ways to ensure a person’s heirs don’t contest a will is to clearly discuss the terms of the agreement beforehand. Taking this step ensures loved ones don’t feel shocked about the contents of a will upon a testator’s death, thereby reducing or eliminating the potential for a will contest.
Making a Single Estate Plan
It is likely a testator will make changes to his/her estate plan as time passes. While there is nothing wrong with doing so, it’s important for testators to go about amending their wills in the proper way, which includes modifying an already existing plan, rather than making a new one. Parties who fail to take these precautions could end up causing confusion upon their passing, with beneficiaries left unsure of which of a person’s estate plans represents his/her true wishes.
Consult with an Experienced Northbrook Contested Estates Lawyer
To learn more about the best ways to protect your own estate from being contested, please call the Northbrook contested estates attorneys at Orlowsky & Wilson, Ltd. Attorneys at Law. We can be reached at 847-325-5559 or by online message.