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How to Eliminate Probate Litigation with Proper Estate Planning Measures

by Joseph R. Harvath, Associate

Probate litigation can come in many different forms, including issues involving family businesses, will contests, and trust disputes.  With proper estate planning, however, many of these issues can be completely avoided.  This is also true with guardianships.  Without proper planning, probate litigation involving a guardianship can easily be drawn out and become contentious.  Knowing the basics of what a guardianship is, along with proper estate planning, individuals can protect themselves and their loved ones from unnecessary probate litigation.

A guardian is someone who has been given control over certain aspects of a person’s life.  This person, a ward, is a person who has been declared disabled by the court because, in the court’s eyes, the person is no longer able to make responsible decisions.  In adults, guardianships can arise in the case of an injury or they often occur due to issues related to dementia.  If a person is declared by the court to be a ward and in need of a guardian, the guardianship can come in different forms.  If named “guardian of the estate,” the guardian has control over the ward’s financial and legal responsibilities and will have to ensure that the ward’s bills are paid on time, the ward’s real estate and assets are maintained and sufficiently protected, and prudently invest the ward’s financial resources; if “guardian of the person,” the guardian is responsible for all of the ward’s personal care, including healthcare and living arrangements; and finally, the plenary guardian,” means the guardian has duties and responsibilities of both a guardian of the estate and person.

With proper estate planning, the stresses and expenses that come with a guardianship and its related probate litigation can be greatly reduced or even eliminated.  Speak with an estate planning attorney today to ensure that you and your loved ones have sufficient planning in place.

Joseph Harvath is an associate in the Belleville and Edwardsville office.  He specializes his practice in estate planning, taxation and business law. 

 

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