Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Protection From Potential "Heirs"

Sue is learning that the court probate process protects her as well as any other potential beneficiaries and creditors of her father Luke’s estate.  Sue thinks she is Luke’s only child. However, a man a few years younger, Chandler, was raised by his mother to believe that Luke was his father; Luke denied it, and never spoke to his family about it at all.  

Chandler now lives in Arizona.  Since Chandler is not mentioned in Luke’s will, he might be able to challenge the will based on his paternity claim.  Probate requires that Sue give notice of the will and probate to all of Luke’s heirs.  Then those heirs can file a challenge to the will in court.  But they have to file within six months of the court admitting the will to probate or forever hold their peace. 

Sue does not know about Chandler or that he thinks he is also Luke’s son.  That makes Chandler an “unknown heir”.  When Sue publishes the Notice to Heirs in a local Will County newspaper in the legal notices, the court accepts that as sufficient notice even to Chandler. 

After six months, then, Chandler is barred from contesting the validity of Luke’s will.  That protects Sue from Chandler coming back in a year, finding out about Luke’s death, and then making a claim on Luke’s assets after she thinks all is settled. 

For advice on protecting your family from potential claims against your estate, call our office at (815) 436-1996 for an estate planning appointment.  © 2014 Gruber Law Office, Ltd.

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