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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The Characteristics Of A Qualified Elder Care Litigation Attorney In Chicago

litigation lawyers ChicagoA litigation attorney in Chicago who practices in the field of elder law has a unique set of circumstances to navigate. While knowledge about the laws relating to guardianship, trusts, estates and a host of other applicable fields is obviously paramount, elder law attorneys must also possess a full understanding of the physical and mental challenges that aging individuals face. In order to best serve the needs of their clients, the attorneys at Peck Ritchey, LLC exhibit all of the following qualities, which are necessary to ensure the best possible representation.

Knowledge In A Variety Of Fields

The breadth of responsibility for an elder care litigation attorney in Chicago is far-reaching and extremely varied. Just some of the areas in which representation by a litigator may be necessary include:

  • Estate Matters
  • Trusts
  • Guardianships
  • Fiduciary Matters
  • Disputed Accountings
  • Recovery of Assets
  • Heirship Disputes

Top lawyers in the field, like those at Peck Ritchey, strive to stay informed on changing regulations, trends, and applicable precedents that may affect their clients. When seeking an elder care litigation attorney in Chicago, it’s important to look for someone with extensive knowledge in all aspects of the law that may affect your case. Guardianship issues, for example, can involve asset dispersal or have fiduciary ramifications. A qualified attorney needs to have the necessary knowledge base to be able to make timely and astute recommendations.

A Wealth Of Experience

Of similar importance is ensuring that the law firm you choose to represent you in elder care matters has the necessary experience in the specific type of law your case will require. If a given case requires litigation, it’s of vital importance that the attorney have a track record of success in working with cases similar to yours. Some firms maintain a general focus, while others may specialize in a particular area of elder law. A well-qualified firm will employ lawyers with a wide range of skill sets and experience to ensure that they are equipped to handle cases of every type.

The Responsibilities Of A Litigation Attorney In Chicago

Working with Peck Ritchey litigators means having the peace of mind that your case is being handled with the upmost professionalism and skill. A litigation attorney in Chicago must be prepared to navigate each step of the process, which can involve a great deal of detail-oriented work even before the trial begins.

  • Assessment — The initial case investigation to determine the details of your case and formulate a litigation plan moving forward. This first step may also encompass examining evidence, locating and taking statements from witnesses, and gathering any supporting documents.
  • Pre-Trial — Other responsibilities leading up to trial include filing motions and pleas, retaining expert witnesses, and finalizing any case discovery matters. Each detail of this process should be thoroughly communicated to ensure that the client is well aware of the details of their case. This is also the final opportunity for the case to be settled outside of court.
  • Trial — If the case is not settled by this point, which the vast majority are, then a qualified litigator must be prepared to present the case before a judge. This is the part of the process that most people think of when picturing the responsibilities of a litigator. The truth is, while the trial can often be the most stressful part of the process for the client, much of the work has already been done in advance by the litigation team.
  • Settlement — A settlement can be reached at any time during the litigation process, and many cases are settled before ever reaching the trial stage. At this stage it is the responsibility of the attorney to handle negotiations, and draft a settlement decision with the client’s best interest in mind.
  • Appeal — If the outcome of the case is not deemed to be favorable, it may be appealed. At this point, litigators will identify grounds for appeal and draft post-trial motions to begin the process, at all times keeping clients informed about the next step.

At Peck Ritchey, LLC we understand that the litigation process can be extremely intimidating for families and individuals who are involved in the litigation of contested wills, trusts, or guardianships. Our attorneys possess the knowledge, versatility and experience to help determine the best course of action for your case. To learn more about our services or to retain a litigation attorney in Chicago, contact us at 855-328-5787.

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3 Instances When You Need A Fiduciary Litigation Attorney In Chicago

Meeting with an AttorneyNot everyone who has been named as a fiduciary representative for a friend or family member’s estate in Chicago needs the counsel of a lawyer. Even fewer require the services of a litigation attorney. But there are a few instances when you need to retain the expertise of a lawyer who is not only skilled in estate planning, wills and trusts, but who is also a litigation attorney. Here are three situations in which you’ll want to contact a litigation attorney in Chicago.

A Litigation Attorney In Chicago Is Essential If…

1. There’s Conflict Over The Will.  The biggest reason for litigation involving a will or estate comes from disgruntled heirs. Sometimes there is no will to speak of. Other times there is a will but the heirs aren’t happy with it. Still other times, the heirs have a problem with the executor of the will. Any one of the instances can result in the fiduciary agent, or executor, becoming involved in a lawsuit.

If you think the heirs are going to be unhappy with you or the provisions of the will, you will want to consult an attorney right away. Whether or not it leads to litigation may need to be seen, but by speaking with an attorney at the soonest possible moment, you can position and protect yourself from being blindsided by a lawsuit.

2. You Goofed. Sometimes lawsuits are filed when the fiduciary agent messes up. As fiduciary you have certain responsibilities to the estate and the court. If you neglect these duties or don’t perform them correctly, you open yourself up to personal liability and may find yourself on the defending end of a lawsuit. If you know you’ve made a mistake contact a litigation attorney at Peck Ritchey, LLC immediately. It’s possible the mistake can be easily rectified without a lawsuit being filed. We can help get you back on track and managing your duties properly.

If you’re unsure of how to fulfill your duties, contact us. We can advise and guide you through the process to ensure you are acting within the confines of the law and performing your duties as intended.

3. You’ve Already Been Named In A Lawsuit. If you’ve already been named in a lawsuit you need to find a litigation attorney as soon as possible. The attorney will work to protect your rights and interests and help you get through the lawsuit with as little damage as possible. At Peck Ritchey we try to minimize litigation at all costs, but if attempts at negotiating a settlement fail, we are prepared to vigorously defend you in a court of law.

At Peck Ritchey, LLC we represent families and individuals who are involved in the litigation of contested wills, trusts, and guardianships. Not only do we represent fiduciaries, we can also advise them and help them fulfill their responsibilities. Peck Ritchey also administers estates, acting as the fiduciary or executor of an estate. To learn more about our fiduciary or estate planning services or to speak with a litigation attorney in Chicago, contact us at 855-328-5787.

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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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Hiring Litigation Attorneys In Chicago

If the time has come for litigation, the first thing you’ll want to do is hire a good attorney. Litigation attorneys in Chicago are easy to find, but choosing the right one for your specific case takes a little homework.

Finding Litigation Attorneys In Chicago: Start With Concentration

To cut down on the amount of time you spend researching and interviewing attorneys, start your search for litigation attorneys in Chicago by seeking out only those who concentrate in your specific type of case. For example, if you’ve been wrongly terminated, you need to find an attorney who specializes in employment law as opposed to real estate law. Once you’ve determined what general area of expertise you need, you can begin a more effective search.

Thanks to the internet, a quick online search will pull up hundreds of results for you. You can begin your search by visiting several websites and gleaning what information you can from them or you can start your search with the state bar association. The Illinois State Bar Association allows you to search for litigation attorneys in Chicago. An added benefit of starting with the bar association is knowing that the attorneys who are listed have met the requirements that were set forth by this professional association. This means the attorneys who are listed are licensed to practice law, have professional liability insurance and are in good standing with the Attorney Regulation and Disciplinary Commission.

Membership in professional associations is also a good indicator of the quality of lawyer you’re researching. In general, attorneys who are active in professional associations are expected to adhere to the highest ethical and professional standards.

Take Your Time

It’s never a good idea to rush decisions. This is definitely true when you are hiring someone to represent you in a legal situation. That said, take some time to research the firms and attorneys on your short list. Just because your cousin had a good experience with a lawyer doesn’t mean the same lawyer will be the right fit for you. Ultimately the attorney you choose must be someone you feel comfortable with. Litigation attorneys in Chicago will have access to many private details of your life. You don’t want to share that information with a lawyer you don’t trust. Many firms offer free or low-cost consultations. Take advantage of these and meet with several litigation attorneys in Chicago until you find the right one for you.

Research the firm or attorney ahead of time. You should be able to gain a lot of information from the firm’s website, and find out if the attorney has any special experience in your types of cases or maintains membership in professional associations. You may find online reviews and recommendations on the attorney that you can use to aid your decision-making.

Nearly as important as the lawyer’s qualifications are his manners and treatment of you and your situation. During your consultation, try to gauge the attorney’s level of interest in your case. Is she interested in it or dismissive? Does he speak to you in terms you understand and treat you with respect? All of these are important considerations when hiring litigation attorneys in Chicago. Remember, not only will you be working with this attorney, he or she will need to present your case in front of a judge and jury. You want them to understand and trust your lawyer as much as you do.

For help in areas of litigation, contact Peck Ritchey at (855) 328-5787. Our litigation attorneys in Chicago will be happy to discuss your case and advise you of your options.

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