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

Crystal Lake

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


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


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


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


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

Trust Litigation

People create trusts to avoid probate, keep their affairs private, and achieve other estate planning goals. Trusts are also effective for protecting beneficiaries and reducing the time, cost, and hassles of legal action for the distribution of assets. However, it is not always possible to avoid a lawsuit by creating a trust. There are numerous interested parties that may not be satisfied with the arrangement, validity, or management of the trust, so trust litigation may be necessary to resolve disputes.
You might not expect these cases to be overly complicated, but make no mistake: Trust litigation is a lawsuit that encompasses all the features of a trial. You put your rights at risk by trying to tackle essential tasks on your own, so trust our team at Bruning & Associates, P.C. to shoulder the legal burdens. We are committed to protecting your interests, so please contact us today to learn how we can help with your case. We can set up a complimentary consultation with an Illinois trust litigation lawyer who can explain specifics regarding your case, but an overview is also useful. 

How Trusts Work in Illinois

Before getting to the relevant concepts regarding litigation, it is important to understand the basic trust structures and how they work. The details vary, but keep in mind the key roles:


This individual creates the trust by signing the appropriate documents and placing assets in the name of the trust.


As the person in charge of the trustee, the trustee manages trust assets and makes distributions to beneficiaries according to the instructions included in the trust document. With some estate planning strategies, the trustee and grantor may be the same individual. 


When creating the trust, the grantor will include specifics on how trust assets, principal, and/or income are distributed to beneficiaries.
There are numerous types of trusts that aim to achieve different goals, but there are two notable points in the context of trust litigation.
1. A grantor can create a living trust, which becomes effective when funded. It is also possible for a person to include a testamentary trust in a will, in which case the terms become effective at the testator’s death. The executor of the will also take on the role of trustee in many cases.
2. A living trust can be revocable or irrevocable, and the arrangement works just as it sounds: The grantor cannot make changes or cancel an irrevocable will, but it is possible to modify a revocable living trust. A grantor might create an irrevocable trust to leverage estate planning advantages, primarily to ensure that property held within it is not considered his or her own.

Common Issues in Illinois Trust Litigation

Due to the presence of numerous roles, rights, and obligations involved with trusts, you can probably guess the different types of disputes that arise. Bruning & Associates P.C. has extensive experience handling a wide range of trust litigation, including:

Trust Contests

Beneficiaries and interested parties having an expectation regarding distributions can file a lawsuit to dispute the validity of the trust. Trust contests might be based upon allegations of undue influence by someone in a position of confidence or control over the grantor. Another argument is that the grantor lacked the mental capacity to sign the document.

Breach of Fiduciary Duty

The trustee acts in a fiduciary capacity with respect to beneficiaries, owing them:

  • A duty of loyalty
  • The obligation to act in their best interests
  • A duty to avoid conflicts of interests in managing trust assets

Trust litigation involving a breach of fiduciary duty may aim to remove the trustee for taking improper actions or failing to act. When assets have been mismanaged, it is also possible to recover for losses stemming from the trustee’s misconduct.


This type of trust litigation often follows or accompanies a breach by the trustee, but beneficiaries have the right to an accounting. Through legal action, beneficiaries can compel the trustee to provide information on assets, income, and expenditures. If accounting was provided and the beneficiaries object, they can request court intervention to address trustee misconduct.

Surcharge Action

If the beneficiaries discover that funds were misappropriated or assets were mismanaged, they can pursue a surcharge action to restore losses. The trustee may be held accountable for monetary damages, interest, and attorneys’ fees.

Legal Help with Trust Litigation

The lawyers at Bruning & Associates, P.C. aggressively represent the interests of trustees and trust beneficiaries in all types of trust litigation.  As a trustee, you have special duties and are held to higher standards.  As a trust beneficiary, you may have certain rights that can be improperly limited by the trustee.  The skilled trial lawyers at Bruning & Associates, P.C. use their expertise to guide trustees in the administration of trusts, and to protect trust beneficiary rights.
We are prepared to tackle the important tasks involved with trust litigation, including:

  • Advising you on the laws and legal concepts that affect your interest
  • Helping assess objectives, strengths, and weaknesses of your case
  • Collecting evidence to support your position in trust litigation
  • Conducting written discovery and deposing witnesses
  • Developing legal arguments
  • Preparing for trial, which involves presenting witnesses, cross-examining parties, introducing important exhibits, and other efforts

In addition, our lawyer can explain options for resolving trust disputes outside the courtroom, such as settlement agreements, trust modification, and terminations.

Contact Our Illinois Trust Litigation Attorneys to Learn More

Once you appreciate that trust litigation encompasses all the complications, pitfalls, and challenges of a trial, you realize that retaining skilled legal counsel should be a priority. Our team at Bruning & Associates, P.C. has solid trial advocacy skills and in-depth knowledge of the law, so you can count on us to protect your interests regardless of your role. We have offices conveniently located near you in Chicago, Schaumburg, and Crystal Lake, Illinois. Please contact Bruning & Associates, P.C. for a free Trust Litigation consultation.
Serving Trust 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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