Illinois Contested Estates

In an ideal world, estates would be planned and administered with no contestable issues.  Unfortunately, broken family relationships, greed, poor communication, and general misunderstandings can cause major problems with the administration of estates.


What kinds of legal actions lead to contested estates in Illinois?


In Illinois contested estate litigation, there are a variety of legal actions that can arise, including:

  • Will contests based on a variety of grounds, such as lack of testamentary capacity or undue influence
  • Contested claims against an estate
  • Discovery and recovery of assets wrongfully withheld or taken from an estate
  • Disputes involving joint tenancy accounts with rights of survivorship
  • Guardianship litigation, including who should act as guardian and how guardianship funds are being handled by the guardian
  • Issues related to Powers of Attorney for Health Care or Property
  • Problems with unreasonable fiduciary compensation 
  • Disputes related to trust administration, including breach of a fiduciary duty and issues with trust accountings


What typically causes contested issues with Illinois probate estates?


Oftentimes, people are surprised to find out that many of the problems that families face with regard to estate litigation are merely the visible sides of much deeper issues, such as disrespect among the parties or lack of communication.  Individuals can commonly become very fixated on the specific legal issues related to contested estates because the internal unresolved issues are driving their anger and frustration.  Thus, helping individuals work through the underlying problems can oftentimes aid in reaching an amicable settlement to an otherwise volatile estate litigation action.


How long do contested estates usually last in Illinois?


While there is no hard and fast rule regarding how long contested estates will last in Illinois, a typical contested estate for estates under $500,000.00 will normally take between one and two years to settle, if the case can be settled prior to trial. However, it is not uncommon for a probate estate involved in litigation to last two or three years, or more.


What most often causes delays in Illinois contested estate litigation?


In Illinois probate litigation, estates can be slowed down by a number of things, including:

  • Stubbornness of the parties or attorneys involved (because of pride/ego or greed)
  • Extensive discovery caused by a lack of transparency between the parties
  • Complex asset holdings that can increase the number of issues involved
  • The sheer number of parties/attorneys contesting the estate, and how many competing interests there are in an estate
  • The degree of brokenness in the family relationships involved in the litigation


Can lengthy, protracted estate litigation be avoided in Illinois?


While probate litigation in Illinois can become very expensive and time-consuming, it doesn't necessarily have to be.  If the parties and attorneys involved in the litigation all work hard to reach a settlement, an estate can be resolved much more quickly and efficiently.  For this reason, our firm strives to work toward reasonable settlements in probate estates instead of unnecessarily delaying cases and pushing them to the trial phase.  Usually, attorneys who aggressively fight no matter what the case may be are only trying to serve their own purposes, and to make as much money in legal fees as possible on each contested matter. 


Can Illinois probate litigation be avoided altogether?


Many times, a contested probate estate in Illinois could have been avoided through proper estate planning and/or better parental control in a family. However, when contested issues are unavoidable, litigation can still be avoided in a few ways.  One way would be for the family to reach an out-of-court settlement without the use of attorneys or the court system.  Another way would be for the attorneys involved to work through a professional estate mediator or mediation system to encourage the parties involved to air their grievances across the table from each other versus across the courtroom from each other.  Since one of the primary causes of protracted litigation is the refusal of parties to openly communicate regarding their issues related to the estate, mediation can oftentimes result in families being able to open the lines of communication needed to reach a settlement.  This almost always results in a better settlement that is far less expensive and stressful.


If you have an Illinois estate litigation matter, contact us today to see how we can help you resolve the estate.  In our practice, we represent Executors named in a Will (as well as Administrators who have already been appointed by a local Probate Court) to settle litigation related to an estate.  If you are an Executor (or a court-appointed Administrator) with a contested matter, give us a call at (630) 898-4789 to set up a free initial consultation.  






The Law Office of Kevin Williams, 2295 Bannister Lane, Aurora, IL 60504, (630) 898-4789

Law Office of


Serving DuPage, Cook, Kane, Kendall, & Will Counties


Phone: 630.898.4789

Fax: 630.658.0557




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