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Lombard estate planning attorneysAs we all know, not all marriages stand the test of time, and a divorce can be a messy undertaking. In previous posts, we have discussed in a fair amount of detail how a divorce can affect a person’s already existing estate plan. In most cases, the divorce will nullify any provisions that pertain to the person’s spouse. But, did you know that the terms of a divorce settlement agreement could create obligations for a person to meet in his or her estate plan in the future? A recent ruling by an Illinois appeals court shows how such a thing could happen.

A 33-Year Old Divorce Agreement

In the case in question, a couple got married in 1963, had six children together, and got divorced in 1982. As part of their divorce settlement agreement, which was entered as part of their divorce judgment, each party agreed to create a will that left 50 percent of their estate to be divided equally among their six children.

In 2014, while suffering from a bone marrow disorder, the husband executed a new will and restated a trust, of which his new spouse was named a co-executor and co-trustee along with another person. The husband died three months later.

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pets, Lombard family law attorneyThere is little question that family pets have a special place in the hearts of many people. In fact, as many as two-thirds of all American households own at least one dog or cat. Owning a pet, of course, can be very beneficial to both the family and the animal, but what happens in the event of divorce? Does either party have presumed rights to keep the animals or to visitation? In the state of Illinois, the answer is rather unclear as a matter of law, and recent appellate court decision has not really helped to clarify the law’s intent.

Children and Property

According to the Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act, considerations in a divorce must be made for a couple’s children and the disposition of property. These, obviously, are very reasonable, but, for many families, pets seem to fall somewhere in between. Dogs and cats may not be as important as children–although to couples without children they may be—but they are certainly more valuable than a piece of furniture or artwork. Without statutory guidance, each case must be considered individually.

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