Even though divorced Illinois fathers can leave their children an inheritance, it is natural to be concerned that a former spouse might try to lay claim to a portion of the inheritance, perhaps when the estate of a father goes through probate following his death. However, there are other options available for divorced or single fathers to bypass probate and leave assets and property to sons and daughters. These methods can minimize the risk of your wishes being challenged.
As FindLaw explains, spouses have a right to leave their children anything from their separate property and also their share of marital property. However, if you do not spell out what you want your child to receive in your will, a judge may end up deciding what your child receives. You also have to consider what could happen if you remarry or are remarried now, as your new spouse will very likely receive a share of your assets before your children are given anything. Specifying what your child should get from you in your will lessens the risk that your new spouse receives it instead.
There are also ways you can pass along an inheritance that have nothing to do with a will. One of those ways is to create a trust in the name of your child or children. Since a trust is an entity created separately from yourself, no one else can lay claim to the assets you sign over to the trust. Also, if your child has marital problems and gets divorced, a trust will protect the assets from being split between your child and your child's spouse.
Forbes explains that people can also name children as beneficiaries on specific assets. By signing up your offspring on your life insurance policy or qualified plan asset, you can ensure your children will benefit from them. You can also set up a bank account with a payable on death option. After you pass away, your children can directly claim the money from the account without the need of going to court.
Some fathers opt to give their children money and property directly. For instance, if you wish to pass along a boat to a son, you can choose to do it now. Perhaps you are getting on in years and no longer feel the energy to take boat rides. Giving it to your son now allows you the joy of seeing your child enjoy his inheritance. Also, by passing on assets to your children while you are alive, you can personally intervene if problems should arise.