Tag: heir

What Happens If One of Your Heirs Dies Before You?

If one of your heirs listed in your will happens to die before you, your estate gets distributed differently. It is a good idea – for your own peace of mind – to figure out who would receive the inheritance instead. Also, you should be aware of the effect that the language in your will could have on estate distribution.

Figuring Out Who Inherits When an Heir Dies Before the Testator

If an heir listed in your will dies before you, ideally you would change your will to take that person out. But not everyone has the chance to make that change. Sometimes, the testator does not even know that the heir died. When the will leaves a gift to a deceased person, there are a few options for what happens to the gift.

Often, the will’s language explains that the gift will go to someone else (a successor). The will may use language like “to the survivor” or “if John does not survive me, then to Jane”. It is important to be very clear about the language you use to describe who inherits if an heir predeceases you. In one recent case, family members got into a dispute over the meaning of the phrase “to share and share alike in equal shares or to the survivor or survivors of them.”

What If the Will Doesn’t Mention a Successor?

If the will is silent about who inherits a gift if the heir dies, it matters whether the gift is to a descendant or to a group of people. If the gift is to a single descendant (child, grandchild, etc.) of the testator, then the descendants of the heir who are alive at the time will receive the gift “per stirpes” (each branch of the family receives an equal share of the gift). In other words, if the deceased heir was the testator’s sister and she had one living child and two living grandchildren from another deceased child, then the child gets 50% of the gift and each grandchild gets 25%.

If the gift is to a group of people, and one of the people dies, then the rest of the group receives the portion of the gift that the deceased heir would have received. However, if the deceased heir is the testator’s descendant, then the rule described above for a single descendant applies.

Finally, if neither of the two situations described above apply, then the gift becomes part of the residue of the estate (anything left over after making specific gifts). Whoever inherits the residue will inherit the gift.

As you can see, determining who inherits if an heir predeceases the testator is extremely complicated. It is best to include language in your will specifying what happens if an heir dies.

Want to start planning your estate? Local attorney Andrew Szocka, Esq. provides thorough and speedy estate planning help in the Chicagoland area. To schedule a free initial consultation, visit the Law Office of Andrew Szocka, P.C. online or call the office at (815) 455-8430.

What to Do If You Want to Disinherit Someone from Your Estate

If you have chosen to disinherit someone from your estate, you need to take a few steps to ensure that your wishes are carried out. First, your estate planning documents must clearly explain the disinheritance. Second, you should be prepared for conflict if others learn of your choice. Third, it is a very good idea to speak to an estate planning lawyer and have him or her prepare the necessary documents.

  1. How to Disinherit Someone from Your Estate

Deciding not to give someone close to you any money or property upon your death is a very common choice. That person may not be in your life anymore, you may have had a serious disagreement, or you may think that he or she does not need the money. It is perfectly fine to disinherit someone if you would like, but the key is to do it effectively.

To disinherit someone from your estate in the most effective way, you need to explicitly exclude that person from your will. In other words, your will needs to state in plain terms that you do not want the person to inherit anything. Alternatively, it could state that the person should inherit only a small sum or a particular item of personal property and nothing more.

In some cases, the law does not really allow you to disinherit someone unless your will says so. For example, there are laws that protect spouses from being disinherited. Some courts will enforce these laws even if it appears that a deceased person wanted to disinherit his or her spouse.

  1. Get a Lawyer

To avoid a situation where your wishes for disinheriting someone are not carried out, get a lawyer. A good estate planning lawyer can prepare your will to your specifications. The will often should include a specific statement that you are disinheriting a person, especially if it is a close relative. Also, he or she can discuss the legal implications of disinheriting someone with you. If you need other estate planning documents to distribute your estate to your chosen heirs, your lawyer can assist with those too.

  1. Be Prepared for the Consequences

Unfortunately, your family members may be very unhappy if they learn that you plan to disinherit someone. This is especially true if the person is a close relative. Be prepared to either keep your decision a secret or explain yourself to your family. If you do keep the decision a secret, be aware that your estate could face a will dispute in probate court after your death.

Want to start planning your estate? Local attorney Andrew Szocka, Esq. provides thorough and speedy estate planning help in the Chicagoland area. To schedule a free initial consultation, visit the Law Office of Andrew Szocka, P.C. online or call the office at (815) 455-8430.

What to Do If You Inherit Money from an Estate

If you inherit money from an estate, you may have questions about handling the inheritance. For example, you might want to know how you will receive the money, how much money it will be, and what to do with the money.

How Will You Receive an Inheritance?

Usually, people pass on inheritances through their wills. A will explains how to distribute someone’s estate after he or she dies. Each person who receives money or property from the estate is called an heir. In the will, the deceased person names an executor to handle his or her affairs, including contacting heirs to notify them of inheritances.

When you learn from an executor that you will receive an inheritance, you may not get the money or property right away. Estates sometimes have to pass through probate court before they can be distributed. Also, sometimes it takes a long time to wrap up the deceased person’s affairs. But once the time is right, the executor will either transfer the property to you or write you a check in the amount of the inheritance.

How Much Money or Property Will You Inherit?

The amount of money or property that you inherit depends on what the will says, how much the estate is worth, and what other heirs inherit. For example, when a deceased person dies with a lot of debt, the estate must pay the creditors before it can pay the heirs. The estate will decrease in value, meaning some heirs may inherit much less than anticipated.

Further, the amounts of some inheritances depend on what other heirs receive. The will could say that one person receives $10,000, with the rest of the estate going to you. But if the estate is only worth $12,000, your gift might not be as much as you thought.

What Should You Do With the Inheritance?

Once the executor transfers the inheritance to you, most of the time you are free to do what you like with it. (Rarely, the deceased person writes conditions into the will, such as restricting you from selling real estate for a certain amount of time.) You might consider making your own estate plan so that the inheritance money or property could go to the person of your choice. Or you could use the inheritance to achieve a financial goal, such as paying off loans or putting a down payment on a house.

Have questions about an inheritance? Local attorney Andrew Szocka, Esq. provides thorough and speedy estate planning help in the Chicagoland area. To schedule a free initial consultation, visit the Law Office of Andrew Szocka, P.C. online or call the office at (815) 455-8430.

What Information Should You Include in an Illinois Will?

When you decide to make a will, you may have questions about which information to include in it. First, you will probably want a lawyer’s help for many reasons. Second, you should be very clear about who receives which gifts. Third, you can include some additional information in your will for your executor and heirs.

  1. Why Do You Need a Lawyer’s Help with Your Will?

Most people are not familiar with preparing wills and do not know the legal rules surrounding them. It is unfortunately very common for someone to write out or type up a will and later have it invalidated by the courts. When this happens, assets may pass on in a way the deceased person never intended.

A competent estate planning lawyer can help you avoid these problems. One of the many issues that a lawyer can address is which property you may give away in your will. Any assets held by joint tenancy, that are payable to someone besides yourself or your estate, or held in trust are not part of your estate. Those assets will pass to the other joint tenant, the person to which they are payable, or the trust beneficiary. Your lawyer can identify these assets, as well as the assets that you can dispose of in your will.

  1. Clarity as to All Gifts You Make

Even when working with a lawyer, it is extremely important to be clear about all gifts that you make in your will. For example, you need to identify the full name of any heirs so that there is no confusion about who you mean. “All my money to Jan” in a will could easily become a problem if you have a mother named Janet, an aunt named Janelle, and a child named Janey.

In addition, you must clearly identify the specific gifts you are making. Rather than leaving the “green car” to Janet, have your lawyer list out the license plate number or VIN number. Explain how much money you want each person to have and the sources of the money, if it matters. For example, you could direct your executor to sell your house and distribute the sale money 50/50 to your sons.

  1. Additional Information in Your Will

Some people choose to include additional information in their wills, such as a guardian designation for children or funeral directions. The guardian designation indicates who the deceased person wants to take care of surviving children, although the court gets the final say about who will be appointed guardian. Funeral directions can help the executor and family understand the deceased person’s final wishes, if he or she did not specify them in an advance directive.

Finally, be sure to sign your will properly and have it witnessed in accordance with Illinois law. Your lawyer can help with this step.

Want to start planning your estate? Local attorney Andrew Szocka, Esq. provides thorough and speedy estate planning help in the Chicagoland area. To schedule a free initial consultation, visit the Law Office of Andrew Szocka, P.C. online or call the office at (815) 455-8430.

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