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Chicago Traditional Litigation Attorneys

Administering a person’s estate can result in a contentious battle between family members. At Peck Ritchey, LLC, we understand the struggles you face when a dispute arises after your loved one dies. You must cope with their death and settle all necessary matters within their estate plan. Encountering obstacles that delay the process can be overwhelming.

When someone close to you passes away, you might face the task of planning their funeral, paying off debts, and distributing their assets. The additional burden of a legal case is stressful and might be more than you can handle. You shouldn’t have to go through this devastating experience alone. Having an experienced legal team by your side to guide you through litigation can be beneficial.

Settling an estate dispute through mediation is often easier and cheaper than other methods. Unfortunately, traditional litigation becomes necessary if you can’t resolve the disagreements with other parties involved in the estate plan. Whether a creditor comes after the estate to repay a debt or you believe the deceased accidentally left you out of their will, you can pursue legal action.

The Chicago decedent’s estate litigation attorneys of Peck Ritchey, LLC are ready to represent you in your case and fight to protect your interests. We will stand by you in court and aggressively seek your desired outcome. Call us at (855) 328-5787 today for a free consultation.

Why Choose Peck Ritchey, LLC?

At Peck Ritchey, LLC, we have over 100 years of combined experience in traditional estate litigation. Whether you believe your loved one made a mistake while executing their estate plan or the executor failed to carry out their duties, you can count on us to help. We will review the circumstances and create a legal strategy to try to achieve your legal goals.

Lawsuits involving family are always emotionally charged situations. Despite how you might feel about them, you need to stand up for what’s right. Disputes commonly occur when a beneficiary doesn’t receive the property they think they deserve or a relative believes someone pressured the deceased into executing a legal document.

Peck Ritchey, LLC knows what it takes to get the job done. We work closely with our clients throughout the entire process. We will remain by your side during each step to guide and support you during this difficult ordeal. You will feel like a priority and receive open and honest communication until the end. Don’t make the mistake of handling your lawsuit yourself. Let us do the hard work on your behalf.

Elements of a Legally Enforceable Will

Traditional litigation is often necessary if opposing parties can’t agree on a legal matter regarding a deceased person’s estate. If you want to contest the validity of a will or recover assets left to someone else, you could file a lawsuit. However, it’s crucial to understand what makes an estate plan enforceable.

In Illinois, the court can validate a will and authorize the transfer of property if it includes these elements:

  • The individual creating the will (testator) was at least 18 years old
  • There are valid signatures by the testator and at least two witnesses
  • The testator was of sound mind and had the mental capacity to understand what they were doing by executing the estate plan and the consequences of their actions

If one or more of these elements don’t exist at the time of executing the will and other estate planning documents, you might have grounds for litigation.

Grounds to Challenge a Will in Illinois

The court won’t accept your case simply because you don’t like the deceased’s decisions while drafting their estate plan. You must have substantial evidence that your loved one’s will isn’t valid. The most common grounds for disputing a will include:

  • Undue influence – You can challenge a will if there’s evidence of coercion or force against the deceased to write the will or distribute the assets in a way that doesn’t align with their wishes. For example, if you discover an estranged relative is a beneficiary, it could indicate that undue influence caused your loved one to draft the will that way.
  • Forgery or fraud – An improperly executed will is also grounds for legal action. The judge could declare the will invalid if the signature doesn’t meet legal requirements or it seems to be forged. You can also contest a will if it wasn’t signed by the necessary witnesses.
  • Lack of testamentary capacity – The testator must be of sound mind while executing their will. If there’s a lack of testamentary capacity, meaning they did not have the cognitive ability to know what they were doing at the time, the will isn’t valid. For example, someone with dementia might not be lucid and, in that state, wouldn’t understand what creating a will means.

If you believe you have grounds to challenge your loved one’s will, contact Peck Ritchey, LLC immediately. We can meet you for a free consultation and determine whether you have a case you can pursue.

Parties Allowed to Pursue Traditional Litigation

Only interested parties can file a lawsuit in probate court. An interested party is someone who represents someone who has or who themselves has a fiduciary status, financial interest, or property right in the estate that the proceeding, action, or power could affect.

Interested parties include:

  • Legatees
  • Creditors
  • Heirs
  • The personal representative of the estate
  • Any person entitled to a spousal or child award

The right to initiate or continue legal action against a will’s validity can survive and descend to any of the individuals involved in the estate plan, including:

  • Heir
  • Legatee
  • Representative
  • Grantee
  • An assignee of the person entitled to legal proceedings

You only have six months from the date the will enters probate to file your case in court. Once the deadline passes, you might not have another opportunity to challenge the will’s validity.

Contact Us

Peck Ritchey, LLC has a proven track record of success in estate litigation cases. We believe in fighting for what’s right and fair for our clients. You will receive personalized attention and services from the moment you hire us. We have the experience and knowledge to handle even the most complex legal matters.

If you face traditional litigation due to a dispute or issue with your loved one’s estate, contact us online or call (855) 328-5787 right now. One of our Chicago traditional litigation attorneys can review your case during a free consultation and advise you about the available options for reaching your desired result.