Southern Illinois Estate & Trust Law

What Are Your Estate Planning Needs?

Lawler Brown drafts estate planning documents based on each client’s individual needs. We will work with you to help you answer important questions such as, would a trust be beneficial to you or would a simple Will suffice? Whom should you name as your trustee, executor or guardian? Can disagreements within a blended family be mitigated or prevented?

During your consultation we sit down with you, face to face, to understand your goals and needs. We will explain what each document does in terms you can understand, and how each can offer you peace of mind. Our services include the following:

  • Wills and trusts
  • Health care directives and living wills
  • Revocable trusts and irrevocable trusts
  • Special needs trusts
  • Prenuptial agreements

A clear understanding of your goals for yourself and family in the years ahead is essential to any estate plan. The assistance of an attorney experienced with effective estate planning tools such as a will, trusts and powers of attorney can ensure your wishes become the reality you intend.

Let Us Help

In a world filled with unexpected twists and turns, advanced planning is essential. Through effective estate planning, you can ensure that your wishes regarding health care, asset distribution and other important matters are clear.

At Lawler Brown Law Firm in Marion, Illinois, our skills can help you prepare for all contingencies. Whether you are a new parent worried about who will care for your children if something happens to you or you are approaching the later years in your life and want to clearly establish your health care wishes, we can effectively serve you.

Contact us today to schedule your confidential consultation to begin getting your affairs in order.

Effectively Handling All Aspects of Estate Planning

Our attorneys address all elements of estate planning. Most importantly, we will assist you in developing a plan that leaves your estate to the people you choose. We can prepare trusts which protect assets that you leave to someone who is a minor or disabled. We will help you arrange your assets to minimize estate taxes and to enhance the efficiency of the probate administration process or to avoid probate entirely. We will draft wills and create trusts as necessary to distribute your assets. We prepare durable powers of attorney for health care and finances, so that you can select the people who will make essential decisions should you become unable to make these decisions yourself. We prepare living wills, so that you can make your health care wishes clear.

If you are a small business owner, we can address your business succession planning needs.

Create Wills and Trusts to Manage Assets Your Way

A Will controls the distribution of the assets of your estate. A Trust legally defines how money, investments, property and other assets are to be managed before and after your death, and who the beneficiaries are. While you may revoke or change a will prior to it taking effect, if you die without one, assets may not be divided as you intend, or there could be tax consequences. A Trust or Trusts can work as flexible tools in planning your estate. They can ensure a particular person is taken care of financially, they can help reduce potential taxes, they can help to minimize probate administration and they can fund gifts to a favored charity.

We help clients draft wills that can prevent surviving family member disputes, ensure young children are properly cared for or a family business remains so. We also assist clients in creating testamentary or living trusts-revocable or irrevocable-designed to provide for special needs, engage in charitable giving and facilitate asset transfers or avoid probate issues.

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Mineral Rights in Oil and Gas: What You Need to Know

The traditional conception of real property ownership was that a landowner owned his plot of land along with a column of dirt down to the center of the earth and a column of air up to the sky. This conception no longer holds true. It is now common, especially in Southern Illinois, that when one purchases a piece of real property, the purchaser obtains title to the surface of the land, but not the column of dirt beneath it. Very often, the mineral rights to a piece of property have been severed, and the owner of the mineral rights has the authority to mine them. When mineral rights are severed in the conveyance of a piece of property, the severance creates two distinct and separate interests in the land—a surface estate and a mineral estate, either of which can be conveyed, devised, or leased. When this occurs, the owner of the surface estate is subservient to the owner of the mineral estate. This means that he may not interfere with the activities reasonably necessary to extract the minerals from underneath his land. While title to metallic minerals vests2 at the time of conveyance, title to oil and gas does not, due to the tendency of these types of minerals to move around under the earth. Rather, mineral rights in oil and gas do not vest until they are actually discovered. Thus, mineral rights to oil and gas are better conceived of as rights to exploration and, very often, they are mined pursuant to a mineral lease rather than outright ownership. These leases are subject to the same rules as...

When Can Your Neighbors Legally Take Your Land?

When Can Your Neighbors Legally Take Your Land? There is a concept in real estate law that is little known outside the legal world, whereby a trespasser can gain legal title to someone else’s land. The “trespasser” in these cases is usually a neighbor but, nonetheless, someone who does not own your property can become the legal owner by his use of it through a concept known as adverse possession. Claims of adverse possession are creatures of common law in Illinois, and require a showing of several elements. In order to legally take title to land, a person’s use and possession of the land must be: Hostile (against the right of the true owner and without permission) Actual (he or she exercises physical control over the property) Exclusive (In the possession of the trespasser alone and no one else) Open and notorious (the trespasser must use the property as the true owner would without hiding the occupancy) Continuous for a period of 20 years Adverse possession claims are especially common in rural areas (like most of Southern Illinois) as opposed to towns and cities because it is often more difficult to determine where one piece of property ends and another begins. Example of Adverse Possession Let’s take a look at how a hypothetical adverse possession case might play out. Assume there are two property owners—the Smiths and the Joneses—who own neighboring farms. Mr. Smith erects a barn that he believes is on his property, but is actually 15 feet over the property line on the Jones’s farm. Mr. Jones says nothing about this, and Mr. Smith uses this barn as...

Why You Should Never Resist Arrest

Resisting arrest is very common and occurs any time a person interferes with or obstructs an officer’s attempt to make a legal arrest. In Illinois, it is usually charged as a misdemeanor. However, if there is an injury to the arresting officer, the offense rises to a felony. The charge of resisting arrest is defined at 720 ILCS 5/31-1:1 “A person commits the crime of resisting arrest if they knowingly resist or obstruct the performance by a peace officer, firefighter, or correctional institution employee of any authorized act within his or her official capacity.” While the most classic examples of resisting arrest are fleeing from the scene or engaging the arresting officer physically, the statute is worded broadly and encompasses a wide variety of behaviors. For example, you can be arrested simply for refusing to put your hands behind your back, refusing to lay on the ground, refusing to put your hands on the squad car, or refusing to clear the scene of a crime when ordered to do so. Resisting arrest is also a difficult charge to escape; even if the underlying charge against the defendant is dropped, resisting arrest is an independent charge and will remain. Thus, it is not a defense to resisting arrest that the underlying charge was dismissed. Further, a conviction for resisting arrest can even lengthen a person’s sentence if they are ever convicted of a future offense. Possible punishment for resisting arrest is a Class A misdemeanor in Illinois and is punishable by up to one year in prison and up to a $2,500 fine. If the police officer is injured during the incident,...