Losing a loved one is life’s most challenging obstacle. Knowing that you will never get to see that person is devastating and the stress of handling their assets afterward can be overwhelming. When the division of property turns into contentious probate cases many people do not know the best course of action and wonder if it is worth the fight. Fighting for the last wishes of a deceased person is honorable, not something to be ashamed of. If you anticipate arduous probate litigation, it is essential to hire a reputable probate attorney who specializes in representing estate law in your region.

What is Probate?

Probate is the legal process in which a judge determines the validity of a will, or determines the value and division of property if there is no will for the property. In the probate process, the probate court collects the financial information and assets and determines a value for the property. Additionally, an executor is designated, which is the person who represents the beneficiaries. Since the executor of a will is a demanding responsibility, they are often awarded a large sum of the assets. 

The transference of a deceased person’s assets does not always require probate litigation in Illinois. In fact, property with a will that is valued under $100,000 bypasses probate unless it is contested. An alternative to a last will, a revocable living trust is another method that transfers property and bypasses the probate process. 

How Long Does Probate Litigation Take?

While most probate cases in Illinois last approximately one year, highly-contested cases can last significantly longer. It is typically the high-asset, complex probate litigation cases that result in long, contentious probate cases. As people involved with high-asset estate litigation have more to lose, there is often more passion and animosity involved in the probate process. It also means that most people invest in a respected and reputable attorney in their area, as the financial returns can be very favorable.

A gavel and scale sit in front of a book on the desk of a judge during a probate litigation case

Controversy regarding the validity of the will, the mental well-being of the person when they created the will, allegations of an unfaithful executor, or multiple claims of the assets (either from creditors or claimed beneficiaries) can all make the probate process significantly more complex and expensive.

A claim in probate refers to the filing of a claim to the assets, which adds another layer to the litigation process. With high-asset contentious probate cases, it is common for people to believe that there was an error in the interpretation or creation of the will and that they are entitled to assets even though they are not a designated beneficiary. If a person believes this, then they can make a claim against the will.

Creditors can also make claims against a will if the deceased person has debts to the creditors. If the creditor’s claim is valid, then they are required to legally receive payment before the assets are distributed.

How to Handle a Contentious Probate Case

If you are facing highly-contested probate litigation, it is vital to invest in a reputable estate attorney. Mark Schottler of Schottler & Associates is dedicated to developing strong litigation that will help courts understand the intentions of a will and help you fight for your entitled property.

Contact us today for a free 30-minute consultation in which we will discuss your unique probate litigation case and provide you with a course of action to protect your assets.

Mark Schottler is a Chicagoland attorney with over 20 years of experience working both in probate and estate planning law and in real estate law. He puts his extensive knowledge on these subjects into easily consumable articles that will help and advise the public. Mark Schottler has a passion for probate and uses this to create relevant articles that are informative and entertaining. *While these posts may detail general legal issues, it is not legal advice. Use of this site does not create an attorney-client relationship.