Okay, wills are not completely worthless, but they are close to worthless. A will is simply a legal contract that states what a person's wishes upon death such as who shall inherit and who will be the guardian of their minor children.
Probate Court & Wills
The popular opinion is that a will is exactly what most Americans need upon death. In fact, in many cases, this is not true. For example, ownership of real estate or investment properties are the major cause of probate proceedings for the average American. A will does not avoid a court process upon death called Probate.
A will is a good way of distributing your property upon your death, but there must be a probate proceeding. A probate proceeding takes a minimum of 9 months to 3 or more years to finalize. Most people are not aware that wills must undergo probate court. With a will, you can avoid paying the surety bond (insurance essentially), but you must pay all other expenses such as court filing fees, attorney's fees, and any other court costs.
Opening Up Probate Estate-Cook, Will, & DuPage Counties
In the above counties and Illinois, one must either get a waiver of service or mail out notices to all potential heirs. In Illinois, this typically includes surviving spouses and children of the deceased or even possibly brothers and sisters. Mailing notices from an attorney is what causes many heirs to consult attorneys and contest the validity of wills. Thus, a court procedure invites family conflicts and these family conflicts result in increased court costs, attorney's fees, and long estate and family litigation.
Probate court often results in hurt feelings and broken families. In contrast, a Living Trust is similar to a Will, but if planned correctly, no court process is required. Additionally, a Living Trust is a private document unlike a Will. A Will must be submitted to the Probate Court. With no court process, the beneficiaries of the Living Trust are the only one's aware of the inheritance issues. Second, there is no requirement to mail anything to heirs especially hostile heirs. Third, if there any conflicts, an Attorney may choose how to handle those conflicts, which often result in less family conflict.
Thus, Wills are essentially worthless because the are like typewriters-obselete. Good candidates for Wills are people who do not own real estate. Another consideration is adult guardianship procedures. Seniors over age 55 years of age are increasingly finding incapacity issues are a major concerns. A properly drafted Revocable Living Trust or Living Trust may avoid these guardianship issues.
Sean Robertson, Esq. is a Wealth Preservation Attorney that concentrates in Wills & Trusts, Estate Planning, Probate & Guardianship, Commercial Transactions & Asset Protection law. Sean can be reached at 312-498-6080 or RobertsonLawGroup@gmail.com.
Southwest Suburbs Chicago:
9923 S. Ridgeland Avenue, Suite 99, Chicago Ridge, Illinois 60415