John T. Brooks

John
T. Brooks
Partner,
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.

Articles
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.
Mom and “De Son” Both in Trouble
A recent opinion by the Appellate Court in Missouri suggests that the beneficiaries of a trust may have a claim for breach of the trustees’ duties not only against the trustee, but also against the trustee’s mother.
The Walking Dead Come to Court
Earlier this month, Donald Eugene Miller stood before Judge Allen Davis in the probate court in Hancock County, Ohio, and asked for the court to recognize that he’s alive.
Borrowing Trouble
What began years ago in Illinois as a dispute among siblings over the administration of a trust created by their father and funded by his life insurance policy culminated recently in an opinion from the U.S. Supreme Court in Bullock v. BankChampaign, with serious implications for trustees everywhere.
“I Do – And Yes, He Does, Too”
Deathbed marriages have been a hot topic of concern in recent years, with many states enacting statutes to ensure that a decedent’s heirs have standing to challenge controversial nuptials.
Where There’s a Will, There’s a Way
An unsigned, undated, unwitnessed copy of a will is admitted to probate by the drafting attorney’s former law partner judge on the strength of that attorney’s testimony that it would have been his practice to notarize it if it was, in fact, ever executed.
English or American Per Stirpes
The difference between strict per stirpes and modern per stirpes is the generation at which shares of the estate are divided.
Stripping Away the Mystery of the Probate Exception 1
In Curtis v. Brunsting, No. 12-20164 (Jan. 9, 2013), the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit revisited the issue of the scope of the probate exception to federal subject matter jurisdiction.
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