About the Blog

As the divorce rate in the United States continues to climb, so too does the rate of second (or third, or fourth…) marriages later in life. The complexities of the modern family unit often lead to intense disputes among heirs, legatees and beneficiaries of trusts when a member of a mixed family dies.

Whether by reason of undue influence, duress, fraud, a lack of testamentary capacity or simply a decedent’s failure to properly execute documents, often there are ways in which a wrongfully-excluded heir can contest the last will and testament of a loved one. The law governing contested estates seeks to give effect to the true intentions of a decedent when it comes to the disposition of his or her property. If a will or trust was executed under questionable circumstances, where it can be established that a person’s true intentions are not reflected in a will or trust, the law will step in.

ContestedEstates.com is a blog designed to highlight the broad range of disputes that courts throughout this country deal with on a daily basis. The laws governing these disputes vary from state to state, and it is not the intention of the author, an attorney licensed in the State of Illinois, to provide legal advice regarding your particular situation. Rather, the blog is meant to highlight the rights that one may have as a result of being an heir, legatee, or beneficiary of a trust. 

If you believe you have been wrongfully excluded from a will or trust, you are encouraged to contact an attorney to determine if you may have any avenue of recourse. In the Chicago area, Matthew R. Hess of John J. Pembroke & Associates can help. He can be reached at (847) 696-7705, or at mhess@pembrokelaw.com.

A graduate of Marist High School on the Southwest side of Chicago, Matthew R. Hess earned his B.A. from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign in 2000, double-majoring in Political Science and Finance. He went on to obtain his law degree from Chicago-Kent College of Law in 2003. Mr. Hess began his career prosecuting medical malpractice cases on behalf of injured patients and their families throughout Illinois at both the trial court and appellate court levels in the state and federal courts. He then went on to work on behalf of physicians, hospitals and insurance companies, defending medical providers in those same types of cases. Mr. Hess has served as lead trial counsel in defamation litigation and has handled countless medical malpractice cases that resulted in favorable jury verdicts at trial.

After spending thirteen years litigating heartbreaking cases in the court system, Mr. Hess decided that he had a higher calling. Seeing the ways in which families were impacted by acts of medical and nursing home negligence – emotionally and financially – impacted him greatly. Mr. Hess determined that the best use of his time and legal skills would be to work on behalf of individuals, families and small businesses, to help them prepare for the unknown and to provide compassionate assistance in times of trouble. He is licensed to practice in the State of Illinois and the United States District Court for the Northern District of Illinois, and is an active member of the Illinois State Bar Association, the Chicago Bar Association and the American Bar Association, where he is an active member of the Real Property, Trust and Estate Law Committee.

If you believe you are being wrongfully omitted from a loved one’s will or have questions about the way in which an estate is being administered in Illinois, or if you have questions about how to go about administering the estate of a loved one who has died in Illinois, contact Mr. Hess today at mhess@pembrokelaw.com to learn the ways in which Mr. Hess can help you.

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