Frankfort Law Group
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Will disputes can be costly and unexpected

Illinois residents may wonder how they can save time and money while making a plan to pass their property on to their loved ones after their death. People can determine how to do so by making a will or creating a trust, but if they do not do so, their belongings will pass according to the state's laws on intestacy. These go into effect when people die without a will. In order to avoid this result, some people may turn to downloadable forms in order to prepare a will on their own.

In many cases, these documents may achieve their intended effects, but in other cases, this decision can lead to unintended and costly consequences. In one situation, a woman used a pre-printed form to prepare a will on her own. She wrote out all of her belongings explicitly and individually, indicating that she wanted to pass them to her sister. If her sister died before her, she wanted to leave them to her brother. The will form did not contain a residuary clause, language to include all belongings not explicitly mentioned in the will.

The woman's sister died before her, and she inherited real estate and other property. However, she did not update the will to reflect the changes in her assets. As a result, the inheritance passed to two nieces through intestacy, despite the fact that they were never named in her will. Her brother attempted to challenge the result in court but failed due to the lack of a residuary clause.

Confusion regarding a legacy may lead to drawn-out, costly legal challenges and painful family disputes. By working with an estate planning attorney, people may be able to create wills, trusts and other documents that reflect their plans for the future.

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