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Chicago Decedent’s Estate Litigation Attorneys

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 estate litigation, but the top three most common reasons are:

  • Failure of intentionality 
  • Perceived inequity
  • Wrongful acts during or after the decedent’s lifetime

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.

Perceived inequity

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: 

  1. Traditional litigation
  2. 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.

Testimonials

When my Mom passed, I discovered that a family member had changed Mom’s will after she had dementia. For almost two years, I worked closely with Tim Ritchey and Kyle Fahey. They presented such a compelling case and clearly had no fear of taking it to trial, that the opposing counsel caved on the day of trial. With his outstanding negotiating skills, Tim was able to balance just the right amount of pressure, patience, and professionalism to give us a substantial advantage at the settlement table. In addition to the huge settlement we won, I am so grateful to Kyle and Tim for their thoughtful, compassionate and dedicated approach to such a sad family conflict.

–S.W.

We were extremely impressed with Peck Ritchey’s representation of us in complex litigation involving contested deeds, powers of attorney, and hundreds of acres of family farmland. Kerry Peck and Jesse Footlik were steadfast in their commitment to winning our case, which ultimately resulted in a tremendous settlement for us. Although our case was located in “downstate” Illinois, Kerry and Jesse’s timely and thorough communication made us feel like their office was right next door. We could not be more pleased with their services and the outcome of our case.

–K.S and K.S., Edgar County, IL

I was referred to Peck Ritchey by a former judge after he heard the problems I was having in my case with my first attorney. Kerry Peck and Tim Ritchey are experienced and professional litigators who helped turn my case around for me. I wish I would have gone to them first. They helped me in a contested will and trust matter and were exceptional. I would recommend them highly for any estate, will, or trust matter!

–J.F., Chicago

We would like to express our sincere gratitude to Kerry Peck and Jesse Footlik for the professional and courteous manner in which Peck Richtey have assisted us during the past couple years. You will never know how much it meant to us.

–Kathy S from Champaign

If you want a great experience with your estate planning needs, then you owe it to yourself to visit with Ron Webb at Peck Ritchey.

He explained all the intricacies of optimizing our estate planning needs in a knowledgeable and very friendly manner. It was truly a pleasure working with him and the staff at Peck Ritchey. We highly recommend their services.

–Larry and Judy F., Crystal Lake, IL

Kerry Peck and Jesse Footlik represented me in an extremely complex and litigious trust dispute involving numerous parties. After several years of litigation, the case was settled with a very successful outcome.

Kerry and his team of diligent attorneys help develop creative and detailed strategies that proved to be an excellent solution and produced the results I was hoping to achieve. During the duration of the lawsuit, communication with the attorneys was timely and thorough. Their passion and attention to detail was genuine and unwavering during the entire ordeal. I was very fortunate to have the Peck Ritchey team for representation and it was a great experience working with them. Knowing that the stakes were extremely high in the trust dispute Peck Ritchey, LLC was the right firm to handle a litigious case of this magnitude.

–Harvey C, Chicago

Thank you so much for all of your work and time you spent in facilitating the purchase of our first home. I know we provided you with a short deadline and we appreciate both of you making it happen. The Escrow Officer commented on how seamless everything was for our close. We are extremely grateful for all of your effort. Thank you again!

–Steve T and Anna C

Very professional handling of my mother’s estate. Ron was there every step of the way and so were his paralegals I might add – from coming to Rush University when my mom was too sick to come to the office, and taking my phone calls, and always answering my questions, I can’t thank him enough! I am truly grateful for the wonderful experience with Peck Ritchey especially since it is already stressful enough when a loved one is ill. Thank you so much! We will be using your firm for our own estate planning in the very near future, I would definitely recommend Peck Ritchey.

–Brenda S., Crystal Lake, IL

Peck Ritchey was there with great advice when my family most needed it the most. They got my daughter’s guardianship done on time, and referred us to an expert social worker so we could get her cases through the complicated government systems. The social worker found that the trust put together by others were not in order. Peck Ritchey made new trust documents or amended existing trusts as needed and improved other existing documents. What I appreciate most is they explained it in plain English so I could understand what had to be and what has been done. I am grateful for everything they did and how they did it!

–Victor O., Chicago, IL
Accolades to Peck Ritchey (in particular, Ron Webb), for handling our estate issues professionally and expediently. We connected after attending a very informative presentation on estate planning, offered to retired educators. Everything was explained thoroughly, encouraging us to seek Ron Webb’s assistance and expertise. Thank you for a valuable experience and for giving us peace of mind for the future.
–Myrna B., Palos Heights, IL

I was Legal Guardian and Executor for mother who had passed away 12 years ago. There were two wills. One my mom wrote and another an aunt forced her to change while she had dementia. My former attorney advised me to pay the surety bond for all these years. He lost the original will and the file and closed down his office. My brother who was on SSI was still living in my mother’s apartment, and the estate was left to my mother’s four children. One sister wanted us to buy her out. She was impossible. Peck Ritchey worked with sister’s attorney, helped my brother and closed the estate with all its complications in a few months. We were all concerned that this would turn into a legal mess but they were true professionals, kind, caring and answered all our questions. This the law firm you want on your side. I highly recommend them regarding estates, legal guardianships and drawing up wills.

–Ellie W., Chicago, IL

Peck Ritchey both represents us defending our funding decisions, but also represents the best in leadership and support for issues that can change the quality of life of older persons. We are grateful that we are represented by a group of thoughtful and skilled experts on the law, and great colleagues in making the law work for our older clientele.

–Jon L., Oak Park, IL

My family is so grateful for the positive outcome in my mother’s guardianship trial that had divided our family. Tim Ritchey and the Peck Ritchey team were very professional and thorough in stepping up in an emergency situation and preparing for trial. Peck Ritchey provided us with the peace of mind that my mother will be cared for throughout the rest of her life.

–Kevin G. Chicago, IL

Thank you so much for your consistent attention to our case this past year. We were fairly small potatoes, yet you actually ‘got back’ and stayed on it. There were times when the government seemed to drop the ball more than my little league outfield, but my attorney was there. I realize that you actually went beyond the scope; I truly do appreciate your work.

–Kirt G., Chicago, IL

Peck Ritchey did an excellent job of resolving a very difficult estate matter.

–Scott S., Barrington Hills, IL

I cannot say enough wonderful things about this firm. The professionalism, knowledge, skills, attention to details, and constant updates were above my expectations. And the bonus was having a better outcome than I could have imagined. Jesse & Nick managed an emotional and difficult situation with care and respect. They are a top-notch team with excellent customer service and have very fair and reasonable prices. I would not hesitate to use this firm for any of your needs.

–Debbie M.

Kerry Peck with Kyle Fahey did outstanding work helping settle a difficult, complicated, contentious and sensitive personal matter. They were available by phone, email and text at all times during the day, night and weekend to quickly resolve the matter with the best outcome possible for their client. Thank you!

–S.S.

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