Chicago

2 N. Riverside Plaza,
Ste.1830
Chicago, IL 60606
Phone: 312-897-2010

Crystal Lake

333 Commerce Dr.
Ste.900
Crystal Lake, IL 60014
Phone: 815-455-3000

Schaumburg

1990 Algonquin Rd.
Ste.240
Schaumburg, IL 60173
Phone: 847-637-5140

Scottsdale

7047 E Greenway Pkwy
Suite 250
Scottsdale, AZ 85254
Phone: 847-637-5140

Chicago

2 N. Riverside Plaza, Ste. 1830
Chicago, IL 60606
Phone: 312.897.2010

Crystal Lake

333 Commerce Dr.
Ste. 900
Crystal Lake, IL 60014
Phone: 815.455.3000

Schaumburg

1990 Algonquin Rd.
Ste. 240
Schaumburg, IL 60173
Phone: 847.637.5140

Scottsdale

7047 East Greenway Parkway
Suite 250
Scottsdale, AZ 85254
Phone: 847-637-5140

Additional offices in Warrenville, Naperville, Saint Charles, and Lake Forest

Estate Planning

Probate Litigation

Regardless of whether a person had a will or not, there are certain tasks required with wrapping up his or her final affairs at death. The legal process for doing so is termed probate, and it is an official court case that takes place before a judge and involves various interested parties. Many cases proceed smoothly with few disagreements among the estate administrator, heirs, beneficiaries, and creditors. However, disputes can arise in a wide range of circumstances, so some parties could be facing probate litigation to protect or defend their interests.
 
Litigation is a trial, encompassing Illinois statutes, case laws, court procedural rules, and other requirements. No matter what position you occupy in a probate case, retaining experienced legal representation is crucial. Bruning & Associates, P.C. helps individuals and families navigate the difficult process of probate court proceedings, so please contact us today to schedule a no-cost consultation with an Illinois probate litigation attorney. Some information about the proceedings and types of disputes should help you understand what to expect. 

How Illinois Probate Laws Work

A probate court proceeding is a lawsuit where the court oversees the distribution of one’s assets pursuant to a will or the Illinois Laws of Intestacy. The case starts with the court appointing an individual to manage estate administration; this person would be the executor named in the decedent’s will or a relative designated by statute when there is no will. The estate administrator is tasked with:

  • Collecting and inventorying the decedent’s real estate and personal property
  • Paying verified claims filed by creditors
  • Managing estate assets during probate proceedings
  • Distributing assets to beneficiaries as instructed by the will OR to heirs under intestate succession laws
  • Concluding the case once all administration matters are complete

Note that the concept of probate also encompasses guardianship proceedings for individuals who do not have the legal capacity to act. A guardian could be appointed to handle financial and health care matters for minor children and disabled adults.

Types of Probate Litigation

Considering the range of tasks and parties involved with a typical probate case, you can see how disputes might develop. Between and among the estate administrator, heirs, beneficiaries, and creditors, there is a possibility that someone will not be satisfied with the proceedings. Some of the most common types of probate litigation include:

Will Contests

There are requirements for executing a valid will, and alleged failure to comply with the laws could lead to a will contest by surviving family members and interested parties. Common grounds for disputing the validity of a will include duress, undue influence by others, and lack of testamentary capacity of the executor.

Disagreements Over the Personal Representative

When there is no will, Illinois intestacy laws include preferences regarding who can administer the estate. The order runs from the surviving spouse to adult children, parents, and other relatives. In some cases, these individuals will file competing petitions to request appointments as a personal administrator. Even considering the preferences state by law, certain people might contest another’s qualifications and fitness to act.

Determination of Heirs

When a decedent dies intestate and did not maintain a close connection with family before death, the court must determine who qualifies as an heir. The lines are not always clear with children born of extramarital affairs, second marriages, and associated circumstances.

Accountings

Interested parties have the right to seek an accounting from the administrator, so they may need to initiate litigation to compel paperwork regarding estate assets, expenses, and income. In other cases, you might have objections to an accounting that was prepared and filed with the court. 

Breach of Fiduciary Duty

An estate administrator stands in the position of a fiduciary, who is obligated to:
 

  • Act in the best interests of the estate
  • Maintain loyalty
  • Avoid conflicts of interest when managing estate assets

 
Allegations of breach of fiduciary duty are often raised through probate litigation.

Guardianship Contests

With these cases, one of the key disputes is when a person files a petition to be appointed as guardian of a developmentally disabled adult, i.e., the ward. The ward might not agree that he or she is incapacitated and unable to make decisions regarding medical needs and financial matters, so the probate litigation could revolve around mental and physical health. Another common area of disagreement occurs when multiple children file competing petitions to act as a guardian of a parent. 

How an Illinois Probate Litigation Attorney Can Help

The lawyers at Bruning & Associates, P.C. have had substantial success obtaining significant results for their clients in probate proceedings, and are recognized by their peers and clients as zealous advocates in the probate courts. Let the probate lawyers at Bruning & Associates, P.C. assist you with respect to your probate matters.  

We represent all interested parties in probate cases, including the executor, personal representative, heirs, and beneficiaries under a will. Keep in mind that probate litigation incorporates all the aspects of a trial, including witnesses, exhibits, legal arguments, and rulings on evidence. You can trust our team to tackle such tasks as:

 

  • Consulting with you on the laws that apply to your case
  • Helping you assess goals with probate litigation
  • Developing a strategy that aims to achieve your objectives
  • Collecting evidence, conducting written discovery, and handling depositions
  • Discussing options to resolve disputes out of court, such as by agreement or mediation
  • Presenting witnesses and cross-examining witnesses called by opposing counsel
  • Introducing documents and other proof related to your position
  • Making your case to the probate judge

An Illinois Probate Litigation Lawyer Will Support You Throughout the Proceedings

When you know that probate litigation carries all the attributes of a trial, you can see why retaining experienced legal counsel with sharp trial advocacy skills is critical. Bruning & Associates, P.C. has offices conveniently located near you in Chicago, Schaumburg, and Crystal Lake, Illinois. Please contact Bruning & Associates, P.C. for a free Estate Planning Consultation.
 
Serving probate litigation clients in Northern Illinois, including Cook County, DuPage County, Kane County, McHenry County, Lake County, Will County, Boone County, DeKalb County, Kendall County, LaSalle County, and Winnebago County.

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