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Robertson Legal Group, LLC

Estate Planning: Avoiding Family Conflict

This article discusses estate planning:  avoiding family conflict.  Earlier this week, I met with a couple who both have estranged siblings.  Often, I discuss with parents or clients that have estranged members of their families.  In Illinois, challenges to estates and wills occur and they cost thousands of dollars in legal fees and money.


Under Illinois probate law, a will must be entered probate court for approval and the appointment of an executor.  An heir or legatee may contest the validity of the will, which costs thousands of dollars.  A big mistake many families make in estate planning is distributing an inheritance through a will and give a disgruntled heir $250 or some other dollar amount to discourage them from a will contest.

Under Illinois probate law, heirs and legatees must be given proper notice when a will has been admitted into probate court.  This causes will contests especially by heirs or legatees with nothing to lose, but everything to gain.  A way to avoid a will contest is by setting up a Revocable Living Trust.


Under a Revocable Living Trust, there is no requirement that the heirs or legatees receive anything in the mail.  With a Revocable Living Trust or otherwise known as a “Joint Family Trust” or “Living Trust”, the beneficiaries are the only people that have a legal right to see the contest of a Living Trust.  A Living Trust is a private document unlike a Last Will.  A Last Will is a public document and must be filled at the local court house.

The public nature of a will leads to a more likely result of a will contest.  Furthermore, the probate court rules require notice to heirs and legatees even though they may be disinherited in a person’s will.  Thus, a Last Will is a bad estate planning option from an estate that is likely to have family conflict.  The major point is any attorney is trained how to invalidate a will or any legal document.  Having the opportunity to review a will due to it being public information is an incentive to a will contest.


Robertson Legal Group, LLC is local Yorkville and Kendall County Estate Planning Attorneys.  We also have offices in Naperville and Shorewood.  We concentrate our practice in the areas of estate planning, family estate planning, living trust, probate, and special needs estate planning.  Sean may be reached at 630-780-1034 or via email at Sean@GatevilleLawFirm.com.

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