With the popularity of living trusts, many people in Wheaton believe wills have become obsolete. Others think they may need a will but wonder whether they should create their own will from an online form. The truth is that wills remain an essential tool to ensure a smooth transition after your passing, and it is best to have a will written with your specific situation in mind.

A Wheaton wills lawyer could devise a will that meets your unique needs or manage the probate process in a cost-effective manner. A trusts and estates lawyer could review your circumstances and custom design a will that includes trusts, guardianship, philanthropic goals, and any other necessary aspects to prepare for the future. If conflict is brewing over the terms of an existing will, a wills lawyer could build a solid case and fight to achieve your objectives.

The Probate Process

The probate process is a traditional legal proceeding intended to ensure that a person’s debts and assets are properly handled after their passing. The estate of any person has to go through probate if they have assets titled solely in their own name worth more than $100,000. If assets are held by a living trust or jointly with a spouse, for example, then probate may not be necessary, although it is still a good idea to have a will in place.

During probate in Wheaton, the executor of an estate fills the deceased person’s will in the DuPage County probate court along with other required documents. A Wheaton wills lawyer could handle these filings and other required actions such as notifying heirs and publishing notices to alert potential creditors. If there is no will, an attorney could assist with the process of obtaining approval of an executor and determining legal heirs.

In most cases, an executor may undertake actions to pay bills and inventory assets without approval from the court, but if the will is contested, the court may supervise administration and the executor may need to obtain approval for each act. The executor is then responsible for filing all necessary tax returns for the estate.

Creating a Will

Wills are able to accomplish many purposes. It is a good idea to spend a little time with a knowledgeable Wheaton wills lawyer reviewing a situation to determine needs. A will may be used to:

  • Name a guardian to care for children
  • Establish a trust to provide for dependents
  • Name a person to manage property left in trust for others
  • Designate an executor to manage the estate
  • Allocate assets among people
  • Support favorite causes

If an individual dies without a will, property is distributed according to the laws of intestate succession. In most cases, the court allocates property to relatives, but if no relatives are located, the assets may devolve to the state.

When a Will Is Contested

The heirs who would inherit property, if there was no will in place, may contest the validity of a will. An heir might claim that the deceased person lacked the capacity to make the will or that someone exerted undue influence over the deceased person that affected the terms of the will. In some cases, the terms of the will may not be clear.

When conflict arises, a Wheaton wills lawyer could investigate and advocate on behalf of a client to either support a will as written or contest the will or the interpretation of the terms. An attorney may be able to negotiate a resolution that avoids the need for expensive court intervention.

Contact a Wheaton Wills Attorney

Whether you are an executor seeking help with administration or you are planning to create or revise your own will, a consultation with a dedicated Wheaton wills lawyer is a good place to start. An attorney could explain the process, give you an idea of what to expect, and guide you through each stage to reach your objectives.

The goal throughout is to anticipate and prepare to avoid problems, but if it becomes necessary to fight to protect your interests, an experienced wills lawyer could employ numerous strategies to work toward a positive outcome. To set up your consultation, call now.