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Richard Hellerman
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Estate Litigation

When a loved one passes away it is necessary to wind up that person‘s estate and distribute that person‘s assets. It is a very difficult task. It is a very emotional task. However, it is important that the deceased’s final wishes are honored. Unfortunately, this already difficult process is sometimes made even more difficult when disputes arise over the management of the estate. Such disputes are sometimes between beneficiaries who do not agree on how the assets are divided. In other cases disagreements develop over how the executor manages the estate. In still other cases there are arguments related to how the executor and other fiduciaries such as attorneys are handling the estate. If those involved in the dispute cannot resolve it on their own, it may rise to the level of estate litigation requiring a judge to settle it. If you are involved in a dispute over an estate or a will contest, or if you are concerned that your estate may be the subject of disputes once you pass away, contact an experienced Chicago estate litigation attorney who will help you understand the process of resolving disputes related to estates.

Types of Estate Disputes

When an estate goes through probate, there are a variety of disagreements that may arise. Sometimes such disputes are between beneficiaries and heirs. Sometimes they are between beneficiaries and the executor, between beneficiaries and fiduciaries, and they sometimes arise between the estate and creditors.

Improper execution. As a Chicago estate litigation lawyer will explain, one of the more common types of disputes related to an estate is challenging the validity of the well. Illinois law requires that a will must be executed in a very specific way manner. If the will is not executed it according to the requirements of Illinois law, then it is not valid. In order to be valid the well must be signed in the presence of at least two credible witnesses. In addition the testator must be at least 18 years old, a will must be written. Oral wills are not valid in Illinois.

Testamentary capacity. In Illinois in order for a will to be valid the testator must have had the capacity to execute a valid will at the time of execution. This means that the testator must have been at least 18 years old. It also means that the testator must have been of sound mind at the time he or she executed well. Sound mind means that the testator had the mental capacity to appreciate that he or she was executing a will. In other words, the testator understood what it means to execute a will, who his or her relatives are, and what is involved in his or her estate.

If there is evidence that the testator did not have the mental capacity to execute a will, then there would be a basis for an estate dispute.

Undue influence. Another common reason for estate litigation is an allegation that someone exerted undue influence over the testator in order to make the testator write a will that he or she would not have otherwise written. For example, a caretaker convincing dependent testator to leave everything to him or her and to cut out the testator‘s relatives could be the basis of an argument that the will is invalid based on undue influence. If you are concerned that a caretaker, relative, friend, or any other person exerted undue influence over a testator, discuss your concerns with an estate litigation attorney in Chicago.

Fiduciary litigation. Another common basis of estate litigation is related to the fiduciaries. A fiduciary is someone who manages aspects of the estate. Fiduciaries include the executor and the trustee, if any, as well as other individuals hired by the estate or hired by the executor to care for certain aspects of the estate. For example, an attorney or financial advisor would be fiduciaries with respect to the estate.

Contact the Law Offices of Stephen Bilkis & Associates

Because of the complexities involved in estate litigation it is important that you are represented by an attorney with experience. The estate litigation attorneys serving Chicago at the Law Offices of Stephen Bilkis & Associates have years of experience representing clients in complex estate litigation in Illinois courts. We will help you make the process as painless as possible under the circumstances. Contact us at 855-454-5529 to schedule a free, no obligation consultation regarding your case. We serve individuals throughout Chicago.

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