Publications

Articles on Wills and Probate

ANATOMY OF A WILL: A Step-By-Step Guide

By Helen W. Gunnarsson
October
2009
Article
Page 506
A step-by-step primer on simple wills for newbies, litigators, and other will-drafting novices.

Illinois’ new will repository law

By Helen W. Gunnarsson
July
2009
LawPulse
Page 330
Legislation headed to the governor will give lawyers a place to deposit wills for long-lost clients.

Five Wishes: “zero cases of litigation”

June
2009
Column
Page 274

Be Careful What You Wish For: Analyzing the “Five Wishes” Advance Directive

By Ray J. Koenig III and MacKenzie Hyde
May
2009
Article
Page 242
The popular Five Wishes document helps clients think about life issues. But don't use it in place of Illinois statutory forms, these authors argue.

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.

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