Dealing with the loss of a loved one is hard enough, but add legal battles about decedent estate litigation and the stress and strain can make matters worse. At Peck Ritchey, LLC, our experience makes us one of the top Chicago probate litigation firms. We always fight for our clients, their loved one’s last will and testament, and their final desires for their estate. Call us today at (855) 328-5787 to set up your free consultation and ask us case-specific questions. We will be happy to advise you on the best next steps for your case.
After a loved one dies you likely only want to carry out their final wishes and move on as best as possible. This is difficult to achieve when other family members or heirs contest the will and are in continual disagreement over the estate.
Even after careful estate planning a will is still open to the courts for contestation for a certain amount of time. This means potential vulnerabilities. Other family members can drag out the process of breaking up an estate, which keeps you mired in grief.
Why Do You Need a Lawyer?
Any legal fight is an emotional matter for those that have something at stake. However, when you add the loss of a loved one to the mix it only amplifies stress and heightened emotions. It is imperative to have a clear head during any legal battle. This is next to impossible to achieve when you are emotionally compromised by the situation. Yet, a professional and experienced Chicago decedent’s estate litigation lawyer is able to fight on your behalf with a clear head while you focus on more important things, like mourning the loss of your loved one.
Estate litigation is a complex legal matter that should not be taken lightly. That is why you need a team of experienced attorneys fighting on your behalf. You need a team with extensive knowledge of these types of cases and a proven track record of favorable outcomes. They will not only have your best interests in mind but know how to fight to achieve your goals. That’s where Peck Ritchey, LLC comes in.
Why Choose Peck Ritchey, LLC?
Our goal at Peck Ritchey, LLC is to protect our clients in the courtroom so they have peace of mind outside the courtroom. Our compassionate, professional attorneys have over 100 years of combined experience in all areas of probate, estate planning, guardianship, special needs planning, and elder law. At Peck Ritchey, LLC, we work closely with our clients every step of the way, so they always understand their options and the next steps to achieve their goals. We encourage you to read through our testimonials to see what past clients have to say about our services and legal skills.
Potential Disputes in Decedent Estate Litigation
There are many reasons why someone might dispute an estate with litigation, but the top three most common reasons are:
Failure of intentionality
This simply means someone claims that the decedent did not intentionally leave them out of the will, or accidentally gave them a lesser amount of the estate. Often, this is an issue if the estate planning was not updated to include recent changes or factors in the decedent’s life. During this type of dispute, family members usually question the validity of the will. Potential arguments in this scenario include different interpretations of the terms of the will or challenges to the validity of the will.
This dispute is typically argued among the children of the decedent. However, it is rarely as simple and inequitable division of the estate among siblings. Usually, it involves significantly more complicated issues and often arises even when the estate is split equally among offspring.
For example, one family member might have cared for the decedent while they were ill and paid all expenses out-of-pocket. However, during the reading of the will, they found out they and their sibling each receive exactly half of the estate. The caregiver feels they should be compensated for the past medical expenses of the decedent as well. This is only one of the many ways that perceived inequity is used as grounds for an estate litigation dispute.
Wrongful acts during or after a decedent’s lifetime
The biggest factor in this type of dispute is distrust or suspicion of a trustee’s intentions or actions. One such dispute could be about a trustee’s behavior, like overcharging for services or mismanaging assets, which breaches their fiduciary duty. Another scenario might be a dishonest healthcare provider getting the decedent to give up checking account information in their dying days, then taking their money after they have passed away.
Our team of Chicago probate attorneys understands how difficult these disputes are for all parties involved. It’s never easy to deal with family disputes, but when they involve a significant amount of money or property, the issue is even more complicated. We will do everything we can to both honor the wishes of your loved one and help you resolve any disputes as quickly and effectively as possible.
Frequently Asked Questions
We understand these are difficult times for our clients, and often numerous questions arise in these scenarios. Below are some common questions we hear when dealing with a decedent estate litigation case. If you have a different question or a case-specific one, call us at (855) 328-5787 or connect with us in our online chat to schedule a free consultation where we can answer those questions.
Can someone contest the estate based on the decedent’s mental capacity?
Unfortunately, yes that is a potential contestation reason. No matter how much we want to honor and respect our loved one’s mental capacity after they’re gone, another family member could call the decedent’s competency into question with the courts. Any such claim must be filed within 6 months after the court enters an order admitting the will to probate according to Illinois statute 755 ILCS 5/8-1 and 8-2 (1994).
How much will the case cost in legal fees?
There is no one set legal fee for any case as each one is unique. Every case has a different strategy for fighting in and out of the courtroom; differing amounts of legal time are required to deploy those strategic tactics.=
At Peck Ritchey, LLC, we will discuss not only the validity of your case in our consultations but any costs that may arise during the litigation process. This way you will know what to expect going into the legal battle.
Will we have to go to court to fight against a will or estate contestation?
There are two main approaches to fighting against a will or estate contestation. Those are:
- Traditional litigation
- Arbitration or mediation (also known as ADR or Alternative Dispute Resolution)
Both approaches have their pros and cons and should be carefully reviewed with your legal counsel as potential tactics. We would be happy to discuss your case in detail and which legal approach would be best for your case in our free consultation.
What is considered as part of a decedent’s estate?
The decedent’s estate includes everything they owned, all real and personal property, upon their death. Estate planning often even includes guardianship arrangements if the decedent is in charge of a minor. Another factor to consider as part of the estate are taxes, if the decedent or beneficiary has any due.
How long will the process take?
There is no one set answer to this question as all cases are so different. At Peck Ritchey, LLC, we do our best to resolve these cases as quickly as possible. During our free consultation and after we learn the details of your case, we can provide a more specific potential timeline of the process for you.
Who can contest a will?
Anyone that has standing and would suffer adverse effects due to the execution of the will, according to Illinois statute 755 ILCS 5/8-1 and 8-2 (1994). A person has standing if they have a direct financial interest in the estate.
Don’t wait. Hire a lawyer for estate litigation now. The complicated legal process takes time, and this is not something you want to draw out unnecessarily. You are already grieving the loss of a loved one; you want immediate closure on the estate.
Our team of Chicago decedent’s estate litigation attorneys at Peck Ritchey, LLC are committed to upholding the wishes your loved one had for his or her estate after their passing. We are also committed to resolving disputes in a timely manner. To discuss the particulars of your case and get answers to your case-specific questions, give us a call today at (855) 328-5787, respond in our online chat, or complete our simple contact form.