Estate, Trust and Guardianship Administration

Matthew R. Hess offers compassionate representation to individuals and families who are grieving the loss with a loved one and find themselves appointed as the executor or administrator of that person’s estate. When a person dies, ownership of their assets must be transferred to others. If a person had a valid will in place, the estate’s representative is called an “executor,” and s/he will be responsible for distributing their loved one’s possessions according to the terms of the will. If a person dies without a will, the estate’s representative is called an “administrator,” and that person will be responsible to distribute property according to Illinois’ intestacy statute.

What is Probate?

Probate is the legal court process of administering a person’s estate. Whether or not a decedent left a will, probate may or may not be required. The probate process can be time consuming and expensive, and one of the goals of estate planning is to avoid probate. Oftentimes, probate cannot be avoided, and the court must be relied upon the rule upon the validity of a person’s will and to oversee the administration of the estate.

The probate can be complex, and Illinois law requires all executors and administrators to be represented by a lawyer. Matthew Hess has extensive experience in guiding executors and administrators through the probate process, helping them collect and distribute a deceased person’s belongings, negotiating or paying any outstanding bills or claims, and keeping all of the other heirs and legatees duly informed about the administration of the estate.

Trust Administration

Trusts have become a very common estate planning tool because probate can be avoided when they are prepared and funded appropriately. Nonetheless, when a loved one dies and leaves behind a trust, Illinois law imposes certain fiduciary duties upon the person who becomes the trustee. Retaining a knowledgeable lawyer to help guide you through the trust administration process can lead to a more efficient administration of the trust and can help you avoid breaching your fiduciary duties, which can lead to protracted trust litigation.

Matthew Hess has extensive experience both in administering trusts and representing fiduciaries in contested trust litigation. He will help you oversee matters to avoid disputes before they arise. One of the reasons why trusts are an effective estate planning tool is because they are private, allowing a person to keep the details of their estate private. However, this secrecy can be lost if a trust is not administered correctly because it can lead to other beneficiaries filing breach of fiduciary duty lawsuits. With knowledgeable and compassionate legal representation, such claims can often be avoided.


The probate courts also oversee the estates of minors and persons with disabilities. When such estates are opened for a minor or person with a disability (the “ward”), the representative of those estates is called a “guardian.” Having a skilled attorney to guide you through the emotional guardianship process is highly recommended.

Matthew Hess is experienced with the guardianship process and will provide you with representation in a way that is compassionate and sensitive, yet knowledgeable and assertive. He will walk you through the process of opening a guardianship estate and work with you side-by-side as long as the guardianship is in place.

Hess Law Firm is conveniently located in the Olivet Nazarene University building in Rolling Meadows, Illinois, in close proximity to all of the Northwest suburbs, including Arlington Heights, Schaumburg, Wheeling, Glenview and Buffalo Grove. We also serve clients throughout the Chicagoland area and will gladly meet with you at your home or some other location if you are unable to travel to our offices. We welcome you to contact us to learn more or to schedule a consultation.