John T. Brooks

T. Brooks
Foley & Lardner LLP

John T. Brooks is a partner with Foley & Lardner LLP focusing his practice in the area of estate, trust and fiduciary litigation. He has been Peer Review Rated as AV® Preeminent™, the highest performance rating in Martindale-Hubbell's peer review rating system and was recently re-elected by his peers for inclusion in The Best Lawyers in America® 2007-2012 in the field of trusts and estates. He was also selected for inclusion in the 2005-2012 Illinois Super Lawyers® lists and Leading Lawyer in 2003-2009.*

Mr. Brooks began his legal career in estate planning and administration and subsequently transferred the substantive knowledge he acquired in those areas into a successful practice litigating contested estate and trust matters. His practice encompasses all aspects of estate and trust litigation including breach of fiduciary duty issues, judicial constructions of wills and trusts, will and trust contests, tax litigation, contested heirship, adoption and paternity issues, charitable pledge disputes, guardianship matters, estate planning malpractice, and wrongful death actions. He also handles appeals of these matters as well.

Mr. Brooks is a frequent speaker on topics related to estate and trust litigation and fiduciary risk management. He has lectured to the Chicago Bar Association, the Illinois Institute for Continuing Legal Education (IICLE), ALI-ABA, the Heckerling Institute, the American Bankers Association, Chicago Estate Planning Council and the Chicago Council on Planned Giving. Besides the numerous publications listed below, Mr. Brooks is the general editor of IICLE’s 2009 Handbook for Lawyers: Litigating Disputed Estates, Trusts, Guardianships and Charitable Bequests. He also authors a monthly e-mail newsletter for and serves on the Advisory Board to Trusts & Estates magazine.

Mr. Brooks' professional activities include membership in the Chicago Bar Association and the American College of Trust & Estate Counsel.

Mr. Brooks earned both his B.S. (business administration) and law degree (magna cum laude) from the University of Illinois. He is admitted to the bar in both Illinois and Florida and is admitted to practice before the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois. He represents individuals as well as banks and trust companies.

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The Arbitrary Nature of Health Care Arbitration Agreements
There’s little uniformity regarding whether courts will enforce a nursing home arbitration agreement.
Bin Laden’s Will UnSEALed
The infamous terrorists' last will and testament was recently made public.
Public Policy and the Boomerang Inheritance
Although slayer statutes – laws preventing murderers from inheriting from their victims – have been around for centuries, they’re continuously evolving as courts struggle to apply them to the particular facts of each new and sordid case.
Administration of Trusts And Estates in the Digital Age
As more and more of our important accounts and communications move online, questions about identification and ownership of the digital assets of a decedent’s estate are becoming increasingly important.
Not Guilty by Reason of Insanity
Statutes (and common law) often differ with respect to the sometimes interrelated questions of whether: (1) an insanity defense affects the inheritance analysis, (2) the slayer committed intentional homicide versus manslaughter, and (3) whether a criminal conviction is required for the law to apply.
No Standing to Enforce a Charitable Trust
A recent New York appellate court decision – the latest in the tumultuous saga of Gardiner’s Island in the town of East Hampton, N.Y. – provides a nice opportunity to re-visit the rules regarding who has standing to enforce a charitable trust.
Trending Now: Hollywood Guardianship and Conservatorship Proceedings
While mental illness is fairly prevalent in our society, it’s particularly noticeable and acute in the unique circumstances of celebrities.
The Impact of Slayer Statutes on Surviving Spouse Benefits Under ERISA
Regular readers of our column may remember our article from this past Spring discussing the variations among state “slayer statutes”—laws preventing murderers from inheriting from their victims.
May He Rest In Pieces? 1
In Wilson v. Wilson, a Florida appellate court recently considered the awkward question of whether a decedent’s ashes are considered property for the purposes of determining who has the right to decide on their final disposition.
Slayer Statutes, Choice of Laws Create Lottery-Like Atmosphere
In the wake of a tragic murder-suicide, their family members and the courts were left to answer one particularly awkward and complicated question: Where should the trust money go?
Inherited IRAS Now Fair Game For Liquidation in Individual Bankruptcy Proceedings
The U.S. Supreme Court held that funds held in inherited IRAs aren’t “retirement funds” under the Bankruptcy Code and are therefore not entitled to exemption from a debtor’s bankruptcy estate.
A Brief Slay Ride Through a Slew of State Laws
“Slayer statutes”–laws preventing a murderer from inheriting from his victim–have been around for ages. These laws are generally based on public policy considerations centered on morality, equity and deterrence.
Heaven Can Wait
Young lawyers looking for the next hot area to specialize in might consider decedent’s defense work. An awful lot of folks seem to be wrongly accused of being departed these days.
Fight Erupts Over Portrait of an Angel
Our story this month has nothing short of an all-star cast, Farrah Fawcett, Ryan O’Neal, Andy Warhol and the kind of drama Hollywood writers are typically paid to make up.
Enforceability of Mandatory Arbitration Provisions in Trust Agreements
In recent years, arbitration clauses have finally started making their way into trust agreements. The big question that remains unanswered, however, is whether they’ll be enforced.
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