Articles Posted in Estate Adminstration

When a non-lawyer ventures into the world of probate or guardianship, one item that usually causes confusion is the requirement for the representative to post a bond. Under Illinois law, a court-appointed representative is required to post a bond which covers 150% of the value of the personal estate. This requirement is in place for anyone serving as guardian of an estate for a person with a disability. It is also required for the administrator or executor of a decedent’s estate. Although in the case of decedents estates, the requirement for a bond can be waived, but only if the waiver is explicitly stated in the decedent’s will.

So what does a bond do? In essence, it acts like an insurance policy that protects the estate from the actions by the representative. The representative (although it can usually be paid out of the estate’s funds) is required to pay an annual premium which is a fraction of the full amount of coverage. The bond company then insures and protects the assets of the estate from any potential losses.

How does one actually acquire a bond? Most counties have their own standardized forms which the representative would need to sign called a “surety bond” form. This document needs to be signed and notarized and then sent to the bond company for execution. The bond companies also have their own forms and applications which need to be completed by the representative before they will approve the bond. In some counties, the bond companies have representatives who spend a portion of their day in the courthouse, which makes it easier to obtain a bond on short notice.

One of the most important, but most often overlooked estate planning documents, are the Powers of Attorney. Powers of Attorney fall into one of two categories: (1) Powers of Attorney for Property and (2) Powers of Attorney for Health Care. Essentially a Power of Attorney legally authorizes a trusted family member or friend to make decisions on your behalf in the event that you become incapacitated or are unable to make decisions on your own. Powers of Attorney are powerful documents that can protect you and your family from the need for expensive guardianship proceedings.

Although Powers of Attorney for Health Care are regularly accepted by hospitals and doctors, many banks and financial institutions are making it harder and harder to use a legally valid Power of Attorney Document. If a manager at your financial institution believes, in good faith, that your Power of Attorney is no longer valid you may be left with no choice but to petition a court for guardianship.

To avoid this from happening we advise that you review your Powers of Attorney to ensure (1) the your Power of Attorney documents are up to date and include the most recent statutory language; (2) that your Powers of Attorney are no more than 5 years old; and (3) that your Power of Attorney allow sufficient authority for your agent to amend trust documents, make gifts, and designate or change beneficiaries.

George Boxill, Prince’s sound engineer, was set to release on April 28, 2017 the “Deliverance” album that included  a total of 6 songs from the late performer.  However, a U. S. District Judge in Minneapolis agreed with Prince’s estate and issued  a temporary restraining order barring Boxhill from distributing any unreleased recordings, including the “Deliverance” EP.

Last week the estate sued Boxill , alleging that he violated his confidentiality agreement with Prince’s corporation and tried to financially gain from the release of the EP on the 1 year anniversary of the pop star’s death.  The suit went on to state that Boxhill had received no authorization to procure or release the songs and that the estate on March 21. 2017  demanded return of all recordings of Prince’s in his possession, including masters, copies or reproductions, but Boxhill refused.  Finally, the estate argued that the representative of the estate, Comerica Bank & Trust had the duty to maximize the estate, not Boxhill.

A Temporary Restraining Order (“TRO”) is a pre-trial petition usually filed along with a law suit which seeks to prohibit a person or entity from doing something that would cause “immediate irreparable harm” if it were allowed to happen.  If a judge is convinced that “immediate irreparable harm” would happen, she can issue a TRO without notice to the other party and without a hearing.  A TRO cannot be appealed.

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