Publications

Illinois Bar Journal
Articles on Wills and Probate

Asked and Answered November 2008 Column, Page 592 Can an adopted child inherit from a biological parent?
How to use Gifts to reduce Illinois estate taxes By Robert J. Kolasa November 2008 Article, Page 580 In 2009, federal and Illinois estate taxes will be "decoupled." Here's how estate planners can use gifts to help clients pay less.
Will construed according to plain and ordinary meaning November 2008 Illinois Law Update, Page 554 On September 5, 2008, the Illinois Appellate Court, Third District, affirmed the judgment of the Circuit Court of Peoria County ordering the proceeds from the securities found in the decedent's home to the charities in her will, and the beneficiaries to pay the 2005 and 2006 real estate taxes on the residences bequeathed to them.
Living trust amendment drafted by a nonlawyer ruled invalid By Helen W. Gunnarsson September 2008 Lawpulse, Page 438 A living trust amendment drafted by a nonlawyer is invalid under the Consumer Fraud and Deceptive Business Practices Act, the Illinois Appellate Court rules.
Court affirms sua sponte dismissal of will August 2008 Illinois Law Update, Page 390 On May 19, 2008, the Illinois Appellate Court, Fourth District, affirmed the judgment of the Circuit Court of Champaign County which sua sponte dismissed an Illinois action, and vacated its earlier order admitting the will of Charles Ray Hoch to probate because of a similar case pending in Louisiana.
Undefined “death benefits” include life insurance proceeds June 2008 Illinois Law Update, Page 284 On April 7, 2008, the Illinois Appellate Court, Second District, affirmed the judgment of the Circuit Court of Winnebago County ordering life insurance proceeds to be delivered to the decedent's children, instead of the listed beneficiary. 
Where there are two wills, is there a way? By Helen W. Gunnarsson May 2008 Lawpulse, Page 230 What should a lawyer do with earlier wills that have been revoked by a later one?
Permanency Planning: Protecting Children from the Loss of Their Parents By Sarah Unsicker December 2007 Article, Page 656 How can Illinois parents plan for the possibility that they will die or otherwise not be there for their children? This article reviews the options.
Year-End Planning for Trust-and-Estate Clients By David A. Berek November 2007 Column, Page 606 It's not too late to implement some tax-saving strategies for your estate-planning clients.
Estate Planning for the Rest of Us By Helen W. Gunnarsson October 2007 Article, Page 520 Most people don't have estates large enough to owe tax when they die. But they still need estate-planning advice.
POD and TOD accounts and your estate-planning arsenal By Helen W. Gunnarsson October 2007 Lawpulse, Page 510 Payable/transfer-on-death accounts are handy probate-avoidance tools that can even be used to transfer real estate. Or can they?
Can lawyers patent their legal techniques? By Helen W. Gunnarsson July 2007 Lawpulse, Page 342 A patent issued on an estate-planning technique has that bar buzzing.
Even More Uncertainty about Estate-Tax Apportionment By Carleen L. Schreder June 2007 Article, Page 306 Two recent decisions interpreting apportionment waiver clauses in wills and revocable trusts make new law. Here's an analysis.
Anna Nicole Smith’s Will By Katarinna McBride May 2007 Column, Page 270 Informal speculation about what becomes of Anna Nicole's estate.
Helping Parents Plan for Children with Special Needs By Kerry R. Peck and D. Rebecca Mitchell February 2007 Article, Page 82 Drafting tips to help lawyers help parents plan, financially and otherwise, for special-needs children.
Living-trust scams: all too alive and well in Illinois By Helen W. Gunnarsson December 2006 Lawpulse, Page 642 Meanwhile, a recent Indiana Supreme Court opinion unambiguously declares that drafting a testamentary trust is the practice of law.
Can you probate a copy of a lost original will? By Helen W. Gunnarsson October 2006 Lawpulse, Page 518 Yes, a seasoned practitioner says. Here's how. 
Equitable apportionment proper where will is silent as to covering shortfalls October 2006 Illinois Law Update, Page 526 On July 20, 2006, the Illinois Appellate Court, Third District, answered a certified question brought on interlocutory appeal and remanded the cause back to the Circuit Court of Rock Island County.
Should You Store Your Client’s Will? By Helen W. Gunnarsson October 2006 Article, Page 532 More and more lawyers say it's a bad idea. But what do you do instead? Is a central will repository the answer?
A will and will substitute may coexist September 2006 Illinois Law Update, Page 464 On July 7, 2006, the Illinois Appellate Court, Second District, reversed the decision of the Circuit Court of McHenry County, which relied on extrinsic evidence of a settlor's intent in interpreting and reforming the settlor's trust. 
The Increasing Estate-Tax Exclusion Amount By David A. Berek August 2006 Column, Page 440 Here's a look at legislative proposals for making the higher estate-tax exclusion permanent.
The Playmate and the Probate Exception By James E. Pfander June 2006 Column, Page 320 The probate exception lay dormant for decades, but Anna Nicole Smith's case revived it.
Estate Planning for Disabled Adults: The Legal Framework By Thomas A. Pasquesi May 2006 Article, Page 242 A look at the standards that guide guardians and courts charged with making decisions on behalf of incompetent wards.
Probate Act section should be read independently of IMDMA April 2006 Illinois Law Update, Page 174 On February 2, 2006, the Illinois Supreme Court affirmed the decision of the Illinois Appellate Court, Third District, reversing and remanding the Circuit Court of LaSalle County's dismissal of a petition for guardianship of a child. 
Three New Illinois Laws Affect Estate-Planning Practice By David A. Berek November 2005 Column, Page 600 Find out more about Illinois estate-tax revisions, series LLCs, and the Disposition of Remains Act.
New limits for family limited partnerships By Helen W. Gunnarsson August 2005 Lawpulse, Page 382 Casting a shadow over a popular tax avoidance device, a recent case disallowed an estate tax break for a decedent who maintained too much control over the business he transferred to his family limited partnership.
Disappointed Would-Be Legatees: Who Has Standing to Contest a Will? By Ray J. Koenig and Adam S. Kornblatt June 2005 Article, Page 294 Suppose your client was left out of a will — can he contest it? This article discusses the legal landscape.
Is the Family LLC Still a Good Asset Protection Device? By David Berek May 2005 Column, Page 256  Is a debtor's interest in a family LLC still beyond the reach of creditors?
The several risks of joint representation By Helen W. Gunnarsson May 2005 Lawpulse, Page 226 What about representing both members of a couple on an estate plan? Two or more partners to a business deal? You can do it – sometimes – if you take the proper steps.
Business Succession Planning: Lessons from True, Blount and Smith By David Berek February 2005 Column, Page 94 The IRS is taking a harder look at how the parties to buy-sell agree-ments for closely held businesses are calculating fair-market value.