Areas of Practice

Estate Planning, Including Wills and Powers of Attorneys

Everyone needs a Will... or practically everyone. If you don't have a Will then the Illinois Intestacy Act will write one for you, sometimes with unintended consequences. The table at the end of this section summarizes some of the reasons to have a Will. For couples with minor children, the primary reason to have a Will is to designate their preference for a Guardian for their children.

Everyone should also have a Healthcare Power of Attorney to designate who they would like to make healthcare decisions for them, if they cannot make decisions, due to accident, illness or dementia. The Healthcare Power of Attorney document also contains instructions for life-sustaining/death-delaying treatment decisions. Persons past age 40, or with special health problems, should also designate an agent for property matters.

Estate planning is important make sure that a person’s estate assets are maximized, and pass to the correct persons. For young couples it is important that they have a Will to make sure that their assets pass to their spouses, so that guardianship estates for their children are not necessary. For elderly couples Medicaid Planning is often important, especially to allow a community spouse to remain in the marital residence when their spouse is required to move to a nursing home.

Probate Estates

Probate Estates include estates for decedents, minors, or persons with disabilities, including dementia. Probate proceedings for decedents in Illinois are relatively simple, procedurally, with the main cost factor being whether there are family members feuding. A well-drafted Will can minimize the potential for a costly probate estate. Proper estate planning may also allow the use of a Small Claims Affidavit instead of opening a probate estate.

Daniel G. Deneen is the Public Administrator and Public Guardian of McLean County. This includes assisting persons with disabilities or estates of decedents when they do not have appropriate relatives or friends to assist them, or if branches of the family cannot agree on an appropriate representative.

Financial Exploitation / Fiduciary Fraud Litigation

Fiduciaries are persons who are placed in a special position of trust or confidence in regards to a person. Fiduciaries include close family members, trustees, executors and administrators, guardians and trustees.

Fiduciary Fraud occurs when a fiduciary breaches his, her or its fiduciary duties, including situations involving self-dealing or conflict of interest. If a transaction benefits the fiduciary then, under Illinois law, the fiduciary must prove that his, her or its actions were appropriate by clear and convincing evidence.

The increasing use of Durable Property Powers of Attorneys has unfortunately increased the financial abuse of elderly persons. Fortunately government agencies are empowered to assist elderly victims of fiduciary fraud. Financial Exploitation of an elderly person is also a special category of the Criminal Code of the State of Illinois.

Personal Injury

Personal Injury involves physical injuries to persons from various causes, including automobile accidents, slip and falls, batteries, medical malpractice and other areas. Daniel G. Deneen is pleased to meet with prospective clients to discuss his opinion as to whether the prospective clients have a proper case for potential litigation, at no charge.

It is important that persons discuss their case and potential damages with an attorney before agreeing to settle a matter with an insurance company or its representatives. No person should execute a "Release" for their personal injuries unless appropriate medical personnel advise them with certainty as to the permanent extent of any disability or disfigurement, as well as future pain and suffering and medical expenses.

If you are... Your property will go to... Disadvantages...
MARRIED, with a surviving child, children, or descendants of children. One-half to surviving spouse and one-half to the children, divided equally.* Prudent estate planning usually mandates distribution of practically the entire estate to a surviving spouse; or at least the income from the estate. The surviving spouse must account to the Circuit Court for all receipts and disbursements for minor children’s estates.
MARRIED, with no surviving child or descendants of children. The entire estate to surviving spouse. No portion of the decedent’s estate will pass to any of the decedent’s relatives, regardless of the source of the property. The surviving spouse’s relatives, or a new spouse, could receive all the property upon the surviving spouse’s death.
WIDOW, WIDOWER, OR SINGLE PERSON, with child or children, or their descendants. The entire estate to child or children divided equally, or to their descendants.* Usually no disadvantage concerning division. Testamentary trust provisions would be advantageous if the children are minors, have special needs, or cannot manage money well.
WIDOW, WIDOWER, OR SINGLE PERSON, with no child or descendants of children. (1) Entire estate to parents, brothers, and sisters, divided equally,* but if only one parent survives, surviving parent receives a double portion. No flexibility. No consideration to the differing needs of parents and siblings. Equal division among siblings, regardless of the sibling's relationship with the decedent or financial need.
(2) If none of the above survive, property passes one-half along bloodline of maternal grandparents and one-half along bloodline of paternal grandparents. If none--- (traces further up family tree) No flexibility. Equal division among all branches of the family, regardless of the relationship with the decedent. The law only looks to "degree of kinship".

*Children of a deceased heir take, by representation,
the portion their parent would have received.

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207 W. Jefferson St., Ste. 603, Bloomington, IL  61702    309/663-0555