Peck Ritchey Attorneys Named Illinois Super Lawyers Rising Stars

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Chicago litigation lawyers Timothy J. Ritchey and Brandon E. Peck have been named to the Illinois Super Lawyers Rising Stars list as two of the top attorneys for 2014 in Illinois Estate and Trust Litigation. Each year, no more than 2.5 percent of lawyers in the state receive this honor. This selection for this respected list is made by the research team at Super Lawyers.

The Rising Stars lists are published in Super Lawyers magazine and Chicago Magazine.

Chicago litigation lawyer Tim Ritchey concentrates his practice in the areas of estate and guardianship administration, probate and trust litigation, real estate litigation, fiduciary defense litigation and elder law and estate planning and administration. Tim is involved in many professional and charitable organizations, including the Young Professionals Board for the Center of Disability and Elder Law, ISBA, CBA, and DuPage County Bar Association.

Brandon Peck is a Chicago litigation attorney with Peck Ritchey, LLC. He concentrates his practice on guardianship litigation and administration, trust litigation, probate Litigation, fiduciary defense litigation, elder law and estate administration, with an emphasis on contested trusts and estates. Brandon is a contributing author to the book Alzheimer’s and the Law. He currently serves as a director of the Chicago Bar Association Young Lawyers Section, previously serving as co-chair of the YLS Estate Planning Committee. Brandon has been a member of the Junior Board for the Alzheimer’s Association, Greater Illinois Chapter since its inception and currently serves on the Executive Committee as chair of Education and Advocacy.

Peck Ritchey, LLC is a leading boutique law firm providing representation in all areas of elder law including probate litigation, guardianship litigation, trust litigation, administration of estates and trusts, elder law, asset protection, corporate law, tax law, special needs planning, and estate planning in Chicago.

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Do You Need A Chicago Litigation Attorney? Questions To Ask Before You Hire A Firm

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If you’re like most people, you probably do a lot of research before making any major purchases or hiring a contractor to do work in your home. After all, when you’re spending a lot of money or putting your trust in a service provider or contractor, you want to make sure that you’re making the right decision. The same is true if you need to hire a Chicago litigation attorney. Your entire case rests on your attorney’s skill and experience, which is why it’s important to do a lot of research to make sure you’re hiring the right person. If you need to hire a Chicago litigation attorney, here are a few questions to ask so you can be sure that you’re making the right decision.

Questions To Ask A Chicago Litigation Attorney: What Percentage Of Cases Do You Settle?

Sometimes your goal is to settle your case without actually going to trial. Settling beforehand can save you a lot of time and hassle and it can still provide you with a positive outcome. If you’re hoping to settle with the other party, talk to your Chicago litigation attorney about how many cases they settle versus how many they take to court. Let them know your ultimate goal so that your attorneys can proceed with the case just as you’d prefer.

Questions To Ask A Chicago Litigation Attorney: What’s The Payment Structure?

Your attorneys will need to be paid, but how this happens depends on the firm and the type of case. Some attorneys will take a case on a contingency basis, which means that they won’t be paid unless your side wins or settles. Others will ask for a retainer and then will use this to pay for expenses related to your case. Pursuing a legal case does cost money — there are expenses for experts, testing and a number of other things — so it’s important to know how the expenses and payments will be handled

Questions To Ask A Chicago Litigation Attorney: What’s The Attorney’s Track Record?

Ask how many cases the attorney has won, whether in court or through settlement. Obviously, if you’re going through the hassle of filing a suit against someone else or if you’ve had someone file a suit against you, you want to win! While a Chicago litigation attorney can’t guarantee a win, he or she should have a good track record to showcase his or her skills.

Questions To Ask A Chicago Litigation Attorney: Who Will You Call With Questions?

Your Chicago litigation attorney won’t be the only one working on your case. He or she will likely have a team to help so it’s important to know who you can contact with any questions or concerns regarding your case. In many cases, you’ll be able to speak with a paralegal or legal secretary, but what happens if you have a question only your attorney can answer? It’s important to understand who will answer it for you.

Finding the right Chicago litigation attorney is important to your case — its success or failure depends on it. Use these questions as a starting off point so that you can find the perfect attorney for your case.

To learn more about Peck Ritchey, LLC and the services the firm can provide, please visit our practice areas page.

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After a Family Member Passes Away, Do You Know What To Do?

Estate PlanningA death in the family is one of the hardest times for people. What makes it even more difficult is when families have to deal with paperwork and legal issues for the deceased person and don’t know where to start.

How a Chicago Probate Attorney Can Help:
If the deceased individual planned ahead and had an estate plan prepared, the task of administering their estate can be relatively straight forward. However, sometimes those left in charge of distributing assets to beneficiaries and closing accounts are not comfortable with their responsibility. Other times, people don’t plan ahead or have an outdated will, and the estate administration becomes more complicated.

The Chicago probate lawyers at Peck Ritchey, LLC are experienced in helping their clients with the administration of a decedent’s estate as well as other probate matters. What this means is that an attorney can help his client sell property, transfer assets to beneficiaries, and navigate probate court as needed.

If you have any questions about what needs to be done after a death in your family, contact the probate lawyers at Peck Ritchey, LLC for a consultation.

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Reasons You Might Need Chicago Litigation Attorneys

Chicago Guardianship LawyerMost people think that they’ll never have a need for Chicago litigation attorneys. After all, they think that Chicago litigation attorneys are exactly what they see in the movies and legal television dramas. However, there are plenty of reasons that you might need Chicago litigation attorneys. While most lawyers hope that mediation works and that a court appearance isn’t actually necessary, here are a few different reasons why you might need Chicago litigation attorneys.

Consider Chicago Litigation Attorneys For A Contract Dispute

If you’re heavily embroiled in a contract dispute, going at it alone just won’t cut it. You’ll need an experienced lawyer on your side. Whether your problem stems from an employment contract, disputes between business partners or contracts between two businesses. A good lawyer will be able to decipher just what’s inside the contract so you can settle the dispute as quickly as possible.

Find Chicago Litigation Attorneys To Dispute A Will

The time immediately following a loved one passing away is quite difficult, especially if your loved one left a will that you feel was drafted under duress. If your loved one left a disproportionate section of their estate to someone you don’t feel they know well, it might be a good idea to use Chicago litigation attorneys to contest it. An experienced litigation lawyer will be able to see if contesting the will can be successful. Although there’s no guarantee, a lawyer with experience can usually have a rough idea whether or not the contestation will be successful.

Chicago Litigation Attorneys Can Help With A Neighbor Dispute

What do you do if you can’t resolve neighbor disputes in a neighborly manner? Whether your dispute is over property lines, a fence that needs to be repaired, animal control issues (including dog bites) or an unsafe tree that needs to come down, Chicago litigation attorneys can help. Although suing a neighbor is likely the last thing you want to do, it’s sometimes necessary to avoid being harassed in your own home.

Consider Chicago Litigation Attorneys For Divorce And Custody Issues

If your marriage is breaking up and you don’t think that you and your former spouse will be able to resolve these problems amicably, you’re probably headed for court. Chicago litigation attorneys will be able to properly represent you in court so that your interests are protected. Look for lawyers who are experienced in family law so that you’re getting the very best representation possible.

These are just a few of the hundreds of situations that could call for Chicago litigation attorneys. If you’re not sure whether your case requires the assistance of Chicago litigation attorneys, contact the experienced lawyers at Peck Ritchey, LLC. They’ll be able to take a look at your case and work with you to decide whether it is something that you’d like to pursue in court.

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Understanding The Most Common Problems That Probate Attorneys In Illinois Can Help With

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If you don’t understand what probate attorneys in Illinois do, you’re not alone. Many people don’t understand what types of services probate attorneys in Illinois provide — that is until they need one! If you’re confused about what this type of lawyer can do for you, learn about the most common problems that probate attorneys in Illinois take care of. You may be surprised at what you learn.

Probate Attorneys In Illinois Can Write A Will To Avoid A Lengthy Probate Process

Probate always happens after someone dies. Although it sounds highly technical, it’s often quite simple. You’ll need to prove that a will is valid, which is easy to do if a professional, experienced attorney wrote the will. The more quickly a will is validated and proven, the faster the beneficiaries can receive their share of the estate.

If you’re writing your will and want to provide even more protection against a lengthy probate process, consider adding a no-contest clause to ensure that your wishes are followed. If you’re writing your will with an attorney, don’t keep it a secret! Let your family members know what’s in it and if you have special treasured belongings, consider going through them with your family members so that they understand what they can expect to receive after you’re gone. If you have multiple children, one of them may want a treasured painting hanging in your home, while another may want to receive Grandma’s antique china. Spelling out what should happen with each item after you’ve passed can help eliminate unnecessary arguments after you’re gone and keep the peace between your loved ones.

Probate Attorneys In Illinois Can Help Contest A Will

However, if you’re a family member and suspect that your loved one was under duress when the will was written, you can contest it with help from probate attorneys in Illinois. A lengthy fight can drain the estate of resources, which means contesting a will shouldn’t be taken lightly if you’re already a beneficiary. On the other hand, if you are a beneficiary and someone else is contesting the will, you can use a probate attorney to help fight against this and protect the estate.

Probate Attorneys In Illinois Can Help Avoid High Inheritance Taxes

Inheritance taxes can be quite high and many people think that they’re unavoidable. However it is possible to alter a will legally to shield beneficiaries from expensive inheritance taxes. It’s vital that this is done with the help of experienced probate attorneys in Illinois to make sure that the process is done legally — otherwise you could face problems other than high inheritance taxes!

If you think you need the assistance of probate attorneys in Illinois, contact Peck Ritchey, LLC. The helpful attorneys at Peck Ritchey are experienced in probate, estate planning, guardianships and tax law and will be able to help, no matter what type of services you need.

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Estate Arguments: When Should You Contact a Probate Attorney?

Estate PlanningThere can be a myriad of factors the can cause a dispute over a deceased person’s estate.

Perhaps there is an issue with the will. Do you suspect it was signed under questionable circumstances, like after a diagnosis of Alzheimer’s disease? A Chicago probate attorney can investigate the legitimacy of the will to help ensure that the rightful beneficiaries obtain what was promised to them. The attorney will go to probate court to contest the will and then inspect if it is valid.

It takes a while to file the necessary paperwork, close accounts, and sell off property after an individual passes away. Estate administration is a time consuming and tedious process. Sometimes, unfortunately, the person responsible for handling the distribution of a deceased person’s property and assets may not be qualified; other times he may take money for himself instead of distributing it to the rightful beneficiaries. If you are an heir or beneficiary of a person who passed away, and suspect that something isn’t right, it would be well advised to consult with a Chicago probate attorney.

A probate attorney can challenge any aspect of a decedent’s estate. Probate lawyers can get the court to step in to supervise the administration of the estate. This would mean that an inventory would have to be made as well as an accounting of all the financial transactions. This will better allow the court to see if there are any improprieties or mistakes in handling the deceased person’s final accountings. This would also force the administrator to get permission from the court to do anything related to the estate; the administrator would have to get the court’s permission to sell off property, give away assets to beneficiaries or to close accounts.

After a loved one dies, it can often be a trying time for anybody close to that person. If you are questioning or arguing with family and friends about the deceased’s final wishes, then it’s time to connect with a Chicago probate attorney. Peck Ritchey, LLC’s attorneys will provide a free 30-minute phone consultation. Put your mind at ease and call (855) 328-5787.

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Does Your Family Need Probate Attorneys In Chicago?

elder-law-peck-bloomIf you’ve ever watched a movie in which someone dies and their friends and family members gather around wearing black for a reading of the will, you might be surprised to find out that this actually doesn’t happen in real life — it’s just a Hollywood trick. While probate attorneys in Chicago do manage the filing of a will after someone dies, it’s done without ceremony. However, that doesn’t mean that you don’t need help from probate attorneys in Chicago. If you’re not sure whether probate attorneys in Chicago can help your family, ask yourself these questions.

Can Probate Attorneys In Chicago Help If Family Members Don’t Agree With The Will?

In many cases, a will is straightforward. However, in some instances, it can cause major strife among family members, especially if there are multiple assets that need to be divided. If one or more family members feel as if they’re being slighted, they could contest the will in court. If family members don’t agree, it could mean a lengthy court case that rips families apart and drains the assets from the estate.

Does The Estate Include Business Assets?

Another reason to hire probate attorneys in Chicago is if the estate includes a business. This is because handling business assets and transferring ownership could be a complicated process. Instead of leaving the company susceptible to errors, many families choose to turn to probate attorneys in Chicago for help when dealing with a business.

Has The Deceased Taken Steps To Avoid Probate?

In some states, probate is necessary. In Indiana, for instance, if the estate is worth more than $50,000 and assets aren’t owned jointly with another person, probate is required. However, in Illinois, it’s possible to create a living trust to avoid probate. Probate attorneys in Chicago who also handle wills can help create these documents. Ask your attorney about a transfer on death clause for your assets. This means that the assets in your estate — normally property, vehicles, bank accounts and retirement accounts — all automatically transfer to your beneficiary when you die instead of being locked up in probate.

What Else Do Probate Attorneys In Chicago Do?

However, probate attorneys in Chicago aren’t just helpful when someone has died. Many people hire these professionals to draft a will so that they can determine where their belongings end up and to minimize fighting among family members after they’ve died. They can also help create a living will, which is a very different type of document. While a regular will, or ‘last will and testament,’ determines which family members receive death benefits from a life insurance policy, the contents of a retirement account or even property, a living will helps family members know what medical decisions you want made in case you’re unable to make them yourself.

Probate attorneys in Chicago can help your family members through the rough time following your death. While no one really enjoys thinking about their death or what will happen to their assets when they die, coming up with a plan before it’s needed is one of the kindest things someone can do for their family. If you’re not sure how to proceed, talk to Peck Ritchey. Our probate attorneys in Chicago are experienced in helping clients plan for the future.

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Our Probate Lawyers In Chicago Can Help You Avoid Common Executors’ Mistakes

Chicago Elder Law LawyerIf someone you loves trusted you to be the executor of their estate, they have put a great deal of trust in your ability to properly handle everything from filing the proper notices to distributing their property to their heirs. Even if you are familiar with the process, probate lawyers in Chicago can help smooth the way to an easy settlement of the estate. We’ll help you avoid several common estate mistakes by making sure you follow the appropriate steps.

Probate Lawyers In Chicago Will File All The Necessary Paperwork

From obtaining and filing the death certificate to preparing, serving and filing notices, Chicago probate lawyers are familiar with every document that needs to be filed in order to distribute and close the estate. We’ll make sure that notices are placed in the appropriate newspapers and that all potential heirs are contacted as well as debtors and creditors. Our probate attorneys will also use the correct language and form for each document.

We Will Determine What Is And Isn’t Covered By The Will

It’s becoming increasingly common for individuals to prepare a will that covers only a portion of what they want to leave to their descendants. Many people now have separate insurance policies and retirement accounts that aren’t part of their estate. Our probate lawyers in Chicago can quickly determine what is a part of the actual estate and what has to be handled separately. The laws that apply to these accounts can be confusing, but our probate specialists can walk you through the process with ease.

We Aren’t Afraid Of Tax Issues

Estate taxes and the federal laws surrounding life insurance policies, retirement accounts and other assets can be confusing. At Peck Ritchey, our probate attorneys in Chicago are experts at

taking an estate successfully through the complex maze of potential tax issues, protecting the estate from excessive taxation so that the heirs aren’t expected to pay a heavy penalty or excessive taxes.

Proper Interpretation Of The Will Is Critical

Handling someone’s estate also means seeing that their last wishes are carried out properly. This can be an emotionally draining process, particularly if the person who passed away didn’t outline those wishes clearly. If the will has numerous stipulations or is unclear about certain aspects of the estate, it’s best to consult with probate lawyers. Peck Ritchey’s Chicago attorneys have handled hundreds of estates and are proficient at interpreting and carrying out the wishes outlined in even the most convoluted wills.

Distributing The Estate At The Proper Time

Most people want to jump the gun on distributing an estate because they are looking forward to a financial windfall or receiving items of sentimental value. At Peck Ritchey, however, our probate lawyers in Chicago know that early distribution can lead to a variety of problems, including leaving the executor of the estate with responsibility for outstanding debts or obligations that should be covered by the estate. We’ll make sure that all obligations are properly discharged before we distribute the estate in order to protect the heirs as well as the executor.

We understand that as the executor of a loved one’s estate it can be difficult to handle every detail. That’s why working with one of our probate lawyers in Chicago is such a good idea. We’ll handle the details so that you can mourn the loss of your loved one without neglecting the estate or its heirs. Call us today at 312-201-0900 to discuss your estate or that

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Understanding What Your Chicago Litigation Lawyer Will Do For You

If you’re like most people, filing or being named in a lawsuit is a nerve-wracking time. You are entering uncharted waters with no idea what the outcome will be or how far the case will go. What you want most is a qualified litigation attorney by your side to support you through this trying time. Understanding what your Chicago litigation lawyer is doing on your behalf can go a long way toward easing your mind about the litigation process and the role of the attorney.

Understanding What A Chicago Litigation Lawyer Does

Peck Ritchey’s Litigation lawyers handle civil lawsuits. They file lawsuits and carry them through the legal process. A Chicago litigation lawyer may or may not carry the case all the way to a trial. In fact, the vast majority of litigation cases are settled out of court and never make it to the trial court.

A Chicago litigation lawyer from Peck Ritchey handles the case from beginning to end. After they submit the initial filing, a litigator gets to work gathering evidence, researching case law and developing the case. For plaintiffs, this involves proving that you have suffered a loss in some way. For defendants in Chicago, a litigation lawyer will examine the evidence against you and develop a defense. These attorneys can interview witnesses and take statements, gather documents and conduct fact-finding searches to support their case. Much of their work is done outside of the courtroom and it is not at all uncommon for a litigator to never set foot inside a courtroom or present in front of a judge and jury. Most of their work is done via the phone and through written correspondence. Successful Chicago litigation lawyers are very detail oriented and familiar with the ins and outs of legal filings and motions.

Don’t be surprised if your lawyer recommends settling out of court. It’s very, very common for litigation cases to be settled this way and does not mean your case isn’t valid. Settling out of court is just one alternative to going to trial. It’s usually quicker than going to trial and both parties can still come to an agreement.

If a case does go to trial, the litigator will prepare it for presentation in court by gathering evidence, preparing witnesses and developing arguments and statements. At trial, your attorney will help select the jury and present the case in court, question witnesses and present evidence. They will help work out the settlement and can file an appeal if you lose your case.

The Specialization Of Litigation Lawyers

A Chicago litigation lawyer typically specializes in one or two areas of law, concentrating his or her practice almost exclusively on cases falling into these areas. Before hiring a Chicago litigation lawyer, you’ll want to learn what areas of law they specialize in and make sure it fits your needs. A Chicago litigation lawyer with the appropriate background and knowledge is crucial to the success of your case.

You will find a qualified and respected Chicago litigation lawyer covering all aspects of probate, trust and guardianship litigation at Peck Ritchey, LLC. Contact us at (855) 328-5787 for more information about our litigation services covering all aspects of elder law.

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New York Times Exposes Probate Issues

While browsing the New York Times yesterday, I came upon the article entitled, “Avoiding Probate Can Pose Risks of Its Own.” On the heels of President Obama’s new tax laws, the Times reporter addresses the planning techniques people can use to avoid probate.

But, as the Times points out, without the proper knowledge people can get a false sense of security from wills and trusts. This is because non-probated items, which are not distributed through these documents, (retirement accounts, joint bank accounts, life insurance…) can cause  issues of their own. Forgetting to coordinate your estate plan with these other accounts can throw off all your intentions.

SOME ISSUES INCLUDE:

  1. Joint Bank Accounts: Even if you have distributed your estate in your will, if during your life you put a caregiver or loved one on a joint bank account, they will receive the money in the account upon your death – not who you listed in your will.
  2. Expenses: Did you address who is responsible for paying the various expenses that will arise such as estate taxes and the funeral bill? (Is there enough money in the estate?)
  3. Real Estate: Similar to joint bank accounts, if there is another name on the deed when you pass, that person will inherit the property, not the heirs.
  4. Life Insurance/Retirement Accounts: Make sure the beneficiary on your forms matches your will.

These are just some of the issues that could cause complications with your estate plan. To ensure your estate is distributed properly and your wishes are followed, hire an experienced Chicago probate attorney to draft and help execute your documents.

***To view the complete New York Times article, click here.

Jacobs, Deborah. “Avoiding Probate Can Pose Risks of Its Own” New York Times, Wealth Section, February 9, 2011.

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