Protect Your Assets from Legal Challenges with Proper Estate Planning

Never assume that your heirs will do what you want with your assets after you are gone, this is why proper estate planning is crucial. While we may have people in our lives who we trust enough to dispose of our assets after our deaths, taking this approach is almost never a good idea. In fact, in Illinois, when a person does not have a will, trust, or estate plan in place at the time of his or her death, that individual’s property will be distributed according to the state’s laws of intestacy, regardless of what he or she may have told a loved one.

This arrangement could end up being far different than what a person had in mind when imagining who would benefit from his or her assets down the road. Estate planning is one of the best ways to avoid this possibility and to protect one’s assets from eventual legal challenges, so if you have questions about how your own estate will be handled upon your death, you should consider reaching out to an estate planning attorney in Lincolnshire who can walk you through your legal options.

The Importance of Proper Estate Planning

One of the main components of estate planning is designating heirs who will inherit one’s assets. When these designations have not been made, a court will step in upon a property owner’s death and decide who will retain which asset, a process that can be time-consuming, expensive, and lead to a result that the property owner wouldn’t have desired.

This, in turn, can lead to disputes between family members regarding who is entitled to certain property. One of the best ways to avoid this is to create a valid and enforceable will or a trust that accounts for all of a person’s assets and includes clear instructions to his or her beneficiaries.

Preventing a Will or Trust Contest

While creating a will or establishing a trust can help ensure that a person can decide how his or her assets will be distributed, it is possible for these wishes to be overruled if a family member successfully contests the estate. This can, however, be an uphill endeavor, as only certain individuals are allowed to contest an estate, including heirs and beneficiaries. Furthermore, even if one of these individuals disagrees with the terms of a will or trust, he or she cannot contest the estate for that reason alone. Instead, the person contesting the estate must be able to prove that:

  • The will wasn’t signed or was not properly witnessed
  • The estate planner lacked the mental capacity to dispose of his or her assets
  • The estate planner was unduly influenced to dispose of assets in a certain way
  • The will or trust was procured by fraud

Fortunately for those who are interested in planning their estates, there are steps that one can take to avoid these kinds of disputes. Ensuring that there is a video recording of a will signing, for instance, can help establish that it was entered into in compliance with state law and that the testator was of sound mind at the time. To learn more about how to protect your own assets from a legal contest down the road, please call our office today.

Speak with our Estate Planning Legal Team

If you have started thinking about how you want your property to be distributed upon your death, please reach out to one of the Lincolnshire estate planning lawyers at Orlowsky & Wilson, Ltd. Attorneys at Law by calling 847-325-5559 today.

Updated as of July 2019
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