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Holographic wills: One of the easiest wills to challenge in court

When a will is "holographic," it means that the will was handwritten and/or unwitnessed. This means that the testator may have written the will by hand in his or her own handwriting, and then signed the will without proper witnesses. Alternatively, the will may have been typed up and signed, but not in front of proper witnesses.

Know the purpose and protections trusts can give your estate plan

When you are creating an estate plan, you might realize that you have to create trusts to get the assets disbursed in the way you want. Once you come to this realization, you will have to determine what type of trust you need to establish. This is a big decision that you need to make, because different trusts have different purposes and offer different protections.

3 common estate planning mistakes

You know that quote that starts with, "The best-laid plans of mice and men..."? This quote can be used to describe a lot of Illinois residents' estate plans. Many estate plans are well-intentioned but, at the end of the day, they lay in waste and ruin and never serve to carry out the original goals of the person who created the plan.

What is testamentary capacity?

The legal term "testamentary capacity" refers to the capacity of an individual to draft a will for him or herself. When someone lacks testamentary capacity, a court will render any will that he or she drafted and signed is not valid. A minor, for example, who is under the age of 18, does not have testamentary capacity to draft a will. Nevertheless, in some circumstances, if the minor is married or in the military, he or she might be able to legally formulate a will.

What is a life estate?

Imagine that you want to provide money and income to a specific beneficiary in your estate plan; however, you want to ensure that additional assets will be available to someone else after the first beneficiary dies. For example, maybe you want your spouse to benefit from your estate, but you want the core of your estate to be inherited by a child after your spouse passes away.

What's a mutual will?

A mutual will is a common estate planning tool that governs the estate of more than just one person. Usually, the people who enter mutual wills with one another are married couples or couples who are in seriously committed relationships.

Art and estate planning: A delicate process of preparation

Some art investors have a knack for buying and selling works of creative inspiration. The investments they make can pay dividends as their art pieces climb in value. However, when you own a number of works of art that have increased in value significantly over the years, planning for how these assets will be transferred to heirs can be complicated.

The easiest thing you can do to protect your estate plan

Some Illinois residents never create an estate plan, making the days and months following their death stressful and challenging for the loved ones and potential heirs they leave behind. Other, more responsible Illinois residents create detailed and well-crafted estate plans that cover every last detail -- making things as easy as possible for the loved ones they leave behind. If you're one of the responsible ones, there's something else you might want to do to ensure that your estate plan is followed to the letter after you're gone.

Why you may want to put adult kids' money in a trust

Most parents feel fortunate when they have considerable assets to pass on to their children, either while they're still alive or after they're gone. However, there are some situations where parents may not feel it's wise to give an adult child sole control over a large amount of money.

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