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
- 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
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.
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.
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
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.