Our Probate Attorneys Are Also Litigation Lawyers For Many Reasons

Wouldn’t it be wonderful if you never needed a litigation attorney in Chicago, even to settle the estate of a loved one? Unfortunately, in today’s world, Chicago probate attorneys increasingly have to defend estates in court because of improper paperwork, family disputes and other complications. At Peck Ritchey, our Chicago probate attorneys are also experienced litigation lawyers so that they can properly represent any estate, trust or guardianship in court. Their familiarity with case law and legal precedents make them ideally suited to handle contested wills and a variety of other estate problems.

For Handling A Contested Will, Litigation Attorneys In Chicago Are Crucial

If someone you care about has died and left a valid will behind, Chicago probate attorneys can file all the necessary paperwork and push the estate through the courts in a relatively short time frame. If the document may be invalid or if a family member contests the will, a litigation attorney in Chicago will probably be needed to handle the complexities of the situation. Fortunately, our probate attorneys are also litigation lawyers. They can investigate the situation and determine whether the will was executed properly, whether the executor is able to discharge his duties effectively, or if someone was mistakenly left out of the estate.

There are any number of reasons to contest a will or question an estate and a Peck Ritchey litigation attorney in Chicago will be familiar with all of them, including accusations of fraud, the presence of multiple wills and improperly filed paperwork. By working with our Chicago probate attorneys, you can ensure that any problems are being handled by a properly qualified litigation attorney as well.

Our Probate Attorneys Are Familiar With Trust Problems

When the deceased has already created a trust prior to his death, you may find that it outlines inheritance issues clearly, but this isn’t always the case. While a trust is a great way to protect an estate, it isn’t always set up clearly or it may not be valid for a number of reasons. If the estate says that a particular person should inherit but that heir has died, alternative heirs will probably step forward suggesting that they should be the ones to inherit. Or you, as the administrator of a loved one’s trust, may be challenged in court if someone feels that you can’t properly handle the estate or if they believe you have abused your position. In any of these situations, being represented by a litigation lawyer in Chicago is essential.

The Complexities Of Guardianship

The guardianship of minors is a critical issue when parents pass away. In many instances, young parents haven’t left behind clear instructions in their estate, if they have planned at all. If the parents haven’t designated who they want to raise their children in the event of their death, a court battle could ensue, particularly if two or more people want to become the guardians of the children. In any situation where child custody is involved, a litigation attorney in Chicago can represent your case effectively and protect the interests of the children. There are several reasons to dispute the designated guardian including an out-of-date will, the incapacity or abuse by the designated guardian, or an estate plan that neglects to mention some of the minor children.

Because Chicago probate attorneys often have to deal with complex legal issues in court, every one of Peck Ritchey’s probate attorneys is also an experienced litigation lawyer. In this way, we can protect the rights of the heirs while successfully handling the probate of every estate we represent.

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New IICLE® Press Publication: Litigating Disputed Estates, Trusts, Guardianships, and Charitable Bequests 2012 Edition

Peck Ritchey is pleased to announce the recent publication of Litigating Disputed Estates, Trusts, Guardianships, and Charitable Bequests 2012 Edition produced by the Illinois Institute for Continuing Legal Education (IICLE®).

As you may be aware, Kerry R. Peck was a co-author for this publication. His work can be found in chapter 13 on Guardianship Litigation.

The Illinois Institute for Continuing Legal Education is a not-for-profit 501(c)(3) organization dedicated to supporting the professional development of Illinois attorneys through Illinois-focused practice guidance. Mr. Peck’s work on this project is on a volunteer basis.

If you have any questions about the book, please contact IICLE® Customer Service at 800-252-8062 or info@iicle.com.

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Living Trusts: What You Need to Know Before Hiring a Trust Litigation Attorney

One of the better ways to financially protect an elderly individual is setting up a trust.

The type selected depends on the goals and circumstances of the donor or grantor who is providing the money and property to fund the trust.  It also depends upon the circumstances of the person who is to benefit from the trust.

A living trust, also known as a Revocable Living Trust, is not the same as a living will, which provides medical care decisions. A revocable living trust is created while the person is still alive and can be modified at any time; it’s an easier alternative to organize assets and allows for efficient property distribution upon one’s death.

When considering setting up a revocable living trust for an elderly individual, it’s also important to first consider their mental capacity. Do they have the ability to: transact ordinary business and understand the trust that they are signing?

Did you know?

  • If the person with the trust becomes mentally incapacitated, their trustee can manage their assets rather than a court-supervised guardian or conservator.
  • A Revocable Living Trust helps avoid probate and the details of trust agreement cannot become public record.
  • When the person with the living trust dies, those assets go directly to the beneficiaries named in the trust agreement.

The attorneys of Peck Ritchey, LLC are recognized leaders in estate, trust and guardianship litigation.  For more information on setting up a trust by speaking to a trust litigation attorney, visit our website or call directly at (855) 328-5787.

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Top 5 Situations That Should Trigger A Review Of Your Will With Your Estate Attorneys

Keeping your will and estate plan updated is a chore you may push to the bottom of your to-do list. After all, you have a busy life and you did have a will prepared. But having a will that’s outdated can be the same as not having a will at all. Both can lead to problems when your estate is put into probate. If your life circumstances have changed over the years, your will may be inaccurate or outdated. At the least, you should review your will about every five years. Of course, if some major change in your circumstances happens before the five year mark, don’t wait. The more often you meet with estate attorneys who are versed in elder law, the better off your heirs will be.

You’ve Changed Your Marital Status Or Have More Children

If you check your will periodically, you may discover things you hadn’t thought of. If you’ve left something for each of your children, be sure any new children are added to your will. If you’ve gotten married or divorced, be sure your estate attorneys change your will to reflect your current marital state. It can be heartbreaking for your current wife if your will leaves everything to your ex-wife, and the financial consequences could be devastating. Talking to elder law attorneys each time you review your will is a good way to make sure you aren’t missing anything important and will minimize the likelihood your heirs will need litigation lawyers later.

Changes In Legislation Can Mean Changes In Your Will

Law makers periodically change legal guidelines that affect wills and estate plans. Meeting regularly with estate attorneys ensures your will meets all legal requirements. It will also give you the opportunity to discuss how any recent changes might affect you or your heirs. Responsible elder law specialists and estate attorneys should update you on relevant changes each time you meet.

You Need Documentation Of Changes

Wills are often contested by unhappy heirs if they don’t believe that your final will and testament is the correct one. By meeting with your elder law or estate attorneys on a regular basis, you help create a paper trail that will back up the validity of your will. It also helps reassure everyone that the will was actually prepared by you and that you intended to make relevant changes. You should also use the same estate attorneys over the years whenever possible in order to keep the chain of documentation unbroken.

Regular Check-Ups Will Minimize Oversights

Small details can be missed if you write your will, then forget about it for long stretches of time. If you regularly review it with estate attorneys or elder law specialists, you’re more likely to catch minor discrepancies or potential problems. You won’t have to worry about the distribution of even your smallest assets if your do a periodic check-up of your will. No detail is too small when you’re establishing an estate, so don’t hesitate to consult with an elder law specialist or estate attorneys who can answer any seemingly unimportant questions.

You Can Enjoy Life Knowing Your Family Is Provided For

Many people start to worry about what will happen to their families when they pass away. It can interfere with enjoying life here and now if you’re fearful your will won’t protect your loved ones in the future. Visiting estate attorneys periodically to review your will and make any changes needed can give you valuable peace of mind. You may not make changes to your will at every meeting, but just knowing you’re keeping on top of things with your estate attorneys is a valuable gift to your family.

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Asking These Questions Can Help You Find The Right Elder Law Attorney

When you need an elder law specialist who is concerned with the rights of the elderly, you need to find someone who isn’t just a litigation lawyer. Chicago residents may find someone who is skilled at arguing a case but isn’t familiar with issues facing the elderly if they don’t narrow down their search to skilled attorneys who are also familiar with elder case law and specifics of retirement, elder abuse and other concerns of those over sixty-five. You need someone who is not only experienced in the courtroom and at the negotiating table, but someone who is compassionate, patient, and focused on helping the elderly.

If you need an attorney who specializes in elder law, ask the following questions to ensure you’re finding the right person to help you or your loved ones:

Are You Familiar With Elder Law?

Sometimes the most obvious questions are overlooked. Simply ask any attorney you are considering whether he or she is familiar with the many elder laws for your state. While any law firm can handle elder law issues, not every firm has attorneys on staff who are thoroughly familiar with the complexities of elder law or who specialize in litigating or negotiating elder law issues. Be sure and ask for the names and relative experience of each person in the firm who specializes in this particular type of legal work.

If you’re looking for a guardianship lawyer, Chicago has hundreds of attorneys who will be glad to help you, but not all of them have handled enough guardianship cases to truly make them experts. Ask how many guardianship cases the attorney has handled. Experience is crucial when you’re setting up or contesting a guardianship. Also be sure and ask how much experience the firm’s litigation lawyers have in case your elder law issue turns into a court case. Finding an elder law specialist who keeps up to date with the multitude of constantly changing elder laws in Chicago is crucial if you want results that will protect you and your loved ones.

Does Your Law Firm Handle Every Aspect of Elder Law?

Legal issues surrounding the well-being of the elderly are numerous. Don’t forget to ask any law firm you’re interviewing which areas of elder law they specialize in or are familiar with. While you may need an attorney to draw up a will or create a power of attorney now, you’ll probably need a litigation lawyer or specialist in retirement planning at some point down the road. You don’t want to have to shop around for a new attorney every time your needs change. Find a law firm that handles every aspect of elder law, including estates, trusts, Medicare issues, elder abuse and any other issue that could affect you and your family. If you need a guardianship lawyer, Chicago has dozens, but only a few are knowledgeable enough to handle all aspects of elder law for you.

Ask the attorneys you are interviewing which of these elder law specialties they routinely handle:

Guardianship, Powers of Attorney and Living Wills;

• Medicaid and Medicare;

• Social Security;

Estate Planning and Management;

• Long-Term Care Arrangements;

• Elder Abuse;

• Pension Issues and Retirement Plans; and

• Mental Health Issues.

What Elder Law Organizations Do You Belong To?

Elder law specialists take pride in their work and support other attorneys and organizations that are involved with protecting the elderly. The finest litigation lawyers who focus on elder issues will belong to organizations that promote elder law reform and understanding. Ask if the attorney is a member of the National Academy of Elder Law Attorneys, or NAELA or a local branch of the Area Agency on Aging.

Are You One Of The Best Lawyers I Can Find?

There is no one measurement that defines an outstanding attorney, but the “Super Lawyer” designation is one of the most reliable. This designation is determined by fellow attorneys and represents the top 5% of all lawyers. You can rest assured that an attorney is one of the best litigation lawyers or elder care attorneys around if his peers have chosen him for the distinction of being named a “Super Lawyer.”

Do You Help Others Learn About Elder Laws?

The most fervent advocates for the elderly are the ones who don’t stop at handling elder law cases when their work week ends. Look for attorneys who also have speaking engagements or offer seminars to those over 65 regarding elder care issues. Education is central to helping individuals like you understand the complexities of elder law.

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