Audrey Mivelaz had $9 million in assets and no estate plan, no testamentary capacity and no known heirs. However, she had several close, loving friends who knew her for decades and helped care for her as she sank into dementia. After an unsuccessful search for heirs, the plenary guardian of her estate after her guardianship was established and received authority from a Cook County judge to deviate from the intestacy statute by creating a trust and will that benefited the friends and several charities. However, ten supposed heirs surfaced after Mivelaz died.
The principal question in this case for the Illinois Appellate Court was the alleged heirs, who challenged the estate-plan order, arguing that it was void because they weren’t notified of the proceeding. Further, the alleged heirs argued that the guardianship judge no longer had subject matter jurisdiction based on the Illinois Supreme Court case of In re Estate of Gebis, 186 Ill.2d 188 (1999).
Although the Illinois Appellate Court concluded that the guardianship court had constitutional authority to adjudicate the alleged heirs’ attack on the trust and will, the First District affirmed because (1) the guardian conducted a reasonably thorough search for relatives and heirs and (2) unknown heirs received adequate notification by publication and service on the Cook County State’s Attorney.