The following is a listing of success stories that are representative of some of the areas of the law in which we practice and results achieved for our clients.
$9,000,000.00 Estate Administration Settlement
We represented a surviving spouse who was scheduled to receive basically an income interest from her predeceased husband’s fortune while the husband’s substantial corporus was to be given to his distant relatives. After contested proceedings involving numerous parties and law firms in Illinois and Missouri the surviving spouse ended up with an estate in excess of $9,000,000.00 which she was then able to leave as she wished, to her side of the family and friends, including on a tax-free basis since she passed away in 2010, at time when there was no estate tax. If the surviving spouse had not contested matters timely, and if appropriate and aggressive action had not been taken immediately, she would have had relatively little to leave to her side of the family and friends upon her death.
$1,000,000.00 Recovery for Colorado Resident
We recovered in excess of $1,000,000.00 for a Colorado resident whose father passed away in Southern Illinois and whose trust was being managed by basically a rogue trustee. The trustee had prematurely helped themself to excessive trustee’s fees not to mention attempting to have the beneficiaries agree to take out unnecessary life insurance thereby resulting in additional profits to the trustee, who sold life insurance. Instead of our client receiving a lifetime monthly benefit of about $500.00 per month after lawsuits were filed, a settlement was reached whereby the trust was dissolved and our client walked away with an excess of $1,000,000.00 recovery.
Over $200,000.00 Recovered for Sisters
We represented sisters from South Carolina and New York in regard to a case involving their deceased mother, before she passed away, but at a time when her brother had power of attorney, unknowingly conveyed the family farm to her brother thereby depriving our clients in their share of the family farm upon the death of their mother pursuant to the estate plan of their mother.
$5,000,000.00 Missing from Estate
We represented a surviving spouse who had married a wealthy widower. Although a prenuptial agreement was entered into prior to the marriage, the widower made several changes to the estate planning documents benefitting his new wife and her children. There were also transfers of substantial assets from the husband to wife, many occurring within less than a year from the date of death of the widower. When the husband passed away, beneficiaries identified in his estate planning documents claimed there was in excess of over $5,000,000.00 missing in regard to which they were entitled to a substantial share. Issues were raised regarding fraud, undue influence, lack of mental capacity, duress and tortious interference with an expectancy. Our client prevailed and the complaining beneficiaries did not receive a favorable decision from the Court.
$75,000 Unpaid Child Support Recovery
Our client had been married to an Anheuser Busch executive. There was a clause in the divorce settlement agreement that provided that our client was to receive child support with an additional bonus or override based on increases in income of her highly paid former spouse. Unknown and undisclosed to our client, her former spouse received substantial stock options after the divorce. Counsel for the former spouse claimed that the stock options were not income and therefore were not subject to the override or bonus for additional child support. We conducted discovery. We obtained copies of tax returns. The tax returns of the former spouse proved that he had considered same as income since they were identified as such on his tax returns. We recovered in excess of $75,000 for our client, possibly one of the largest back child support recoveries for an Edwardsville, Illinois law firm.
$585,000.00 Recovered in Divorce Case
We represented a wife in a dissolution of marriage proceeding. Her husband was a successful business person in Southern Illinois, including in the agricultural and seed business. Tragic had struck our clients on many occasions before the divorce including losing three children in three separate accidents. Our client was not thinking straight. Her husband’s attorneys were attempting to coerce her into a meager settlement and divorce resolution, not in her best interests, but solely in the best interests of her husband because he had contacts with the right people. Once we agreed to become involved, we immediately disassociated ourselves from the settlement discussions that had transpired. After discovery, and after the intense settlement negotiations, our client received in excess of fifty percent (50%) of the marital estate, including because our client could not count on meaningful job opportunities in the future, and because her husband had a favorable financial future.
Wife Receives in excess of $3,000,000.00 in Divorce Case
We were involved in a divorce case where the wife received in excess of $3,000,000.00. The parties had been married for a number of years and the husband had extramarital affairs with several women. His wife had enough of it. The Judge took the position that the husband basically manipulated information and testimony in his best interests and that he lacked credibility. The wife could have settled for less. However, by proceeding with the matter through trial, the wife ended up with a substantially better result that had been offered by the husband.
Over $375,000.00 saved – Resolution Reached with the Internal Revenue Service
We were hired by a client who had previously paid in excess of $20,000.00 to a national tax representation firm that advertised on the media throughout the United States. Nothing had been accomplished that benefitted the client. After we took over, we immediately began communicating with the Internal Revenue Service, worked out a resolution, saved our client hundreds of thousands of dollars, kept our client in business and our client was grateful for the results obtained. We had recommended to our client that a new accountant be retained and we made a referral to a local accountant and tax return preparer. We filed suit against the national tax firm to recover substantial amounts on behalf of our client. We isolated the old corporation and then created a new limited liability company, to basically continue with the customers in regard to future work. This strategy saved our client in excess of $400,000.00. There was no criminal prosecution. We worked closely with our client for a period of time which included frequent office conferences, correspondence and telephone calls. At each step of the way our client was in contact with us regarding issues and concerns. We used a team approach which, in this case, meant that since more than one attorney was working on the file, someone was always available to respond to the concerns of the client and/or handle communications with the Internal Revenue Service. We treated the Internal Revenue Service with respect and responded to all telephone calls and inquiries. We explained to our client that the Internal Revenue Service has a job to do which is basically follow the law.
Over $425,000.00 Recovered from Phony Heir and Disqualified Administrator
We were hired by clients from the Centralia and Salem areas of Marion County in regard to a disputed estate. There was a person, who had retained counsel, that was claiming that he was the only heir that should receive anything from an estate in excess of $400,000. Not only that, the same person was serving as Administrator and neither he nor his attorney advised the Court that because of an adoption decades ago he was no longer an heir, was not entitled to serve as administrator and was not entitled to any proceeds from the estate. After Court proceedings and various pleadings were filed he was removed from office and his attorney discharged. If our clients had not hired counsel they would have been none the wiser and would have lost everything and no one would have known what occurred, except possibly the person was administering the estate that turned out not to be an heir and/or his attorney. With the tax-free recoveries received by our clients, they were able to pay off debts, take care of education expenses for their children and had savings for their retirement.
Dispute Involving $480,000.00 of Farmland
We prepared an estate plan for an elderly farming couple who wished to favor a child who had remained at and worked for the farm while the other children moved and/or had different careers. From a financial standpoint, some of the other children were not in agreement with the testamentary wishes of the parents. The parents were of sound and disposing mind and memory and knew what they were doing. We explained to all that even though the parents wished to favor a certain child that was their decision.
$150,000.00 Family Farm Saved
A client contacted us for his mother who had not paid real estate tax bills in regard to the family farm for many years. It was unintentional and the elderly mother had some medical issues. After filing suit, we were able to work out a settlement that restored the family farm, worth in excess of $150,000.00 to the family.
$300,000.00 Recovered for Beneficiary to Trust
We represented an out-of-state client in regard to a trust contest in St. Clair County, Illinois. After a period of litigation, including our law firm filing a motion for summary judgment claiming that there were no issues of material fact and that our client was entitled to distribution, an Order was entered by the Court and we recovered in excess of $300,000.00 for our client. Our client was ecstatic!
$580,000.00 Traffic Accident Settlement
We represented clients who recovered an excess of $580,000.00 in regard to a traffic accident. A pizza delivery business was negligent in basically forcing its drivers to hustle from store to store. There was an accident and our clients, a mother and daughter, sustained serious injuries. Without a trial, we were able to negotiate a settlement for over $580,000.00 and the expectations of our clients were succeeded.
$200,000.00 Saved from Filing an Appeal to U.S. Tax Court
We were hired by a client from Boca Raton, Florida who had a tax issue with a St. Louis tax attorney who withdrew from the case. We took over and worked out a resolution with the Internal Revenue Service whereby our client saved in excess of $200,000.00.
$80,000.00 Transfer Set Aside, Breach of Fiduciary Duties, Contested Guardianship Proceedings
We were involved in a case where an elderly person transferred $80,000.00 to his long-time friends. He had previously transferred a farm to a tenant farmer. He did not have a wife and he had no children. The recipients of the basically $80,000.00 transfer were considered by him to be his children, even though they were not blood relatives.
$500,000.00 Estate Dispute, Person Claiming to be Heir was Denied Recovery We were contacted by a group of relatives that hired us in regard to investigating the administration of an estate. It turned out that the person in charge, acting as Administrator, was not a beneficiary or an heir, including because he had lost rights to inherit by virtue of an adoption that occurred decades before the death of the decedent, and he should have been serving as Administrator. After this was discovered, the Court discharged the Administrator and one of our clients was placed in charge of the estate and our clients received an inheritance in excess of $500,000.00.
We represented the wife of a member of the United States Air Force stationed at Scott Air Force Base, Illinois in a contested divorce proceeding that resulted in our client being awarded custody of the children, substantial child support and an award of substantial attorneys fees and costs for our client.
We represented a former supervisor retired from the Internal Revenue Service in an Offer in Compromise with the Internal Revenue Service which saved the taxpayer in excess of $350,000.00. This compromise resulted in savings of taxes, penalties and interest and allowed the taxpayer to continue with his business operations.
We represented an eighty-five (85) year old widow who received in excess of $12,000,000.00 in an estate and trust litigation case. Her deceased husband had basically attempted to disinherit her even though the couple had been married and worked together in the family business for over sixty (60) years.
We were involved in a case where the Court allowed removal of a child to another state. It was shown that removal was in the best interests of the child given all facts and circumstances, including changes in the family, an improved educational setting, more financial support for the child and better career opportunities for the parent seeking removal.
We represented the natural mother in a child custody case that received media attention. Unknown to our client, her former boyfriend had beat her infant child requiring life-saving surgery. We were able to work out a resolution which allowed for increased visitation by our client.
We represented a group of relatives in a contested trust case that resulted in a recovery in excess of $850,000.00 for our clients. Unknown to them because they lived out of the area, a series of changes had been made to the estate planning documents of their elderly relative.
We represented a retired military officer that was stationed at Scott Air Force Base, Illinois, in a mortgage foreclosure proceeding and, through various pleadings filed and action taken on behalf of the client, we were able to work out a resolution whereby there was no deficiency judgment pursued by the lender, which saved the client in excess of $70,000.00.
We represented a client in a contested trust case that resulted in a recovery for our client in excess of $325,000.00. There were issues as to whether or not our client was entitled to any recovery under the estate planning documents of the decedent and whether or not any inheritance had to be shared with others.
We represented a beneficiary regarding the removal of a trustee that was breaching his fiduciary duties and profiting at the expense of the trust and the beneficiaries. The trustee was removed by the Court and required to return sums to the trust estate.
We represented out-of-state sisters who, after their mother had passed away, learned that an interest in the family farm and been deeded by their mother to their brother without their knowledge. After suit was filed, a resolution was reached and our clients received in excess of $250,000.00. We were able to show the actions of their elderly mother were inconsistent with her estate plan and the estate plan of her deceased husband.
We represented a regional trust company that was advised by a long-time client that their services were terminated. We were able to show duress and/or undue influence by a third party and an Order was entered by the Court that basically agreed with our position and allowed the trust company to continue to serve its elderly client.
We represented an elderly blind widow who did not pay a real estate tax bill in the amount of $38.00 and almost lost the family farm worth about $150,000.00. We were able to establish that improper notice was given and that the Order entered by the Court was improper and it was set aside.
We represent a husband who was earning a substantial income in a divorce proceeding where his wife was claiming she was entitled to, among other items, substantial lifetime support because she was unable to work due to her condition. Through investigation we uncovered that she was regularly work out and engaging in competitive sports on a national level. The client hired our law firm claiming his previous attorney was not doing enough, that the case was dragging out, and that he wanted to change law firms for representation. Once we discovered the wife was not portraying her situation accurately and was basically misrepresenting her ability to earn an income, we took her deposition and shortly thereafter the case settled without going to trial.
We were hired by a client in regard to a used vehicle purchased from a car dealer, including for possibly violations in regard to the Illinois Consumer Fraud and Deceptive Business Practice Act. After review and analysis, and after a demand was made on the car dealer, the car dealer agreed to perform repairs for less than 50% of what our client had been quoted prior to hiring our law firm for representation.
We were hired by an over-the-road truck driver in regard to a used tractor trailer he purchased from a internationally known manufacturer. The vehicle was purchased used but still at a substantial cost. After purchasing the tractor trailer, our client experienced problems with the engine. The same dealership that sold the vehicle to our client quoted our client a price of in excess of $26,000 for a new engine and/or repair. Without having to file a lawsuit, after a period of time regarding negotiations, a settlement was reached and our client received what he bargained for without having to purchase the new engine.
We represented a client who thought he was the father of a child but was unsure. After hiring us, as part of our representation, we recommended paternity tests. Even though our client was certain he was the father and that blood tests were not necessary, the blood tests were conducted and it turned out our client was not the natural father. Our client was immediately relieved of a $16,000 back child support award that had been pending against him and the case was concluded.
A physician was referred to us in regard to a medical practice that was dissolved. Despite agreements, the books were not in order and accountings had not been made to our client. After our client had been sued by his former partner, attempting to keep our client from contacting patients that wish to remain with him and utilize his medical services, we reached a settlement that would allow our client to proceed with his new practice and receive his fair share of value from the medical practice he engaged in with his former partner.
We were hired by an mother in regard to her teenage daughter having a baby. The teenage daughter, and the natural father of the baby, had already signed adoption documents, including because they had been promised a relationship with the baby would be maintained even after the adoption and after they were basically recruited by the prospective adoptive parents. After our client had realized she had made a mistake and even though she was still a teenager, the parties seeking to adopt her child and their attorney refused to set aside the adoption documents. After Court proceedings, a satisfactory result was reached that protected the parental rights of our client.
We represented a person who had been wrongfully discharged from her position as a civil service employee at Scott Air Force Base, Illinois. After investigation, including working with her superiors, a resolution was reached whereby she was returned to her employment where she had worked for over twenty (20) years, prior to being fired by a new supervisor.
We represented an eighty (80) year old woman who had never married and had no children, but who had been basically a live-in domestic for a widow with an Estate of in excess of $15,000,000. There had been allegations that our client had been abusing the person with whom she had been living. Before we were hired an Order had been entered directing our client to remove herself from her long-time residence. After we became involved, security cameras were installed, our client was allowed to return to the residence and our client ended up being an income beneficiary in regard to the Estate of the Person with whom she was living, and our client received in excess of $300,000.00 per year for the rest of her life.
We were hired by a physician who was sued because a tennis court he constructed at his home was partially built on a lot belonging to another. Our client had been sued for substantial damages. After investigation we took the case to trial and the Court awarded the Plaintiff a small monetary amount that was consistent with our recommendation and met with the approval of our client.
We represented various pharmacists over the years in regard to allegations by the State of Illinois relating to Medicaid Fraud. Those allegations had to do with charging too much for prescriptions and/or being reimbursed excessive amounts from the State. In all instances, our clients never lost, were never incarcerated and were never found guilty of any fraud or any other wrongdoing.
We represented a client and her mother in regard to a traffic accident in Madison County, Illinois. After investigation, filing suit and engaging in discovery, a settlement was reached whereby our clients received in excess of $600,000.00 without going to trial.
Our law firm was involved in a personal injury case where an individual had been hit by truck and had suffered neurological and other injuries and had been hospitalized, including in intensive care for weeks. After suing various defendants involved in that accident, our client received a settlement in excess of $1,500,000.00.
We had a client that was taken advantage of by his long-time accountants and tax return preparers in regard to phony tax shelters. Through investigation, we determined that the accountants were receiving referral fees in excess of 40% of what our client invested in regard to this scheme. Had our client had known about the excessive referral fees, he never would have invested. After filing suit against the accountants, our clients received in excess of $250,000.00 as settlement.
We represented a wife in a contested divorce proceeding where her husband was a long-time farmer and was also engaged in an agricultural business, which included an established seed and fertilizer operation. He claimed there were insufficient assets and liquidity to fund a settlement in the divorce proceeding. We worked out a settlement, without going to trial, whereby our client received a series of secured installment notes, in excess of $600,000.00, that came due over a period of time, and which provided for added interest, which met with the satisfaction of our client and the Court.
We represented an electrical contractor in a divorce proceeding whose wife had never worked outside of the home and who basically raised six (6) children while her husband ran the electrical business. A settlement was reached without going to trial, which resulted in a favorable property distribution, but no alimony or maintenance being paid by the husband to the wife, and with the husband being able to retain the electrical business and substantial other assets.
We represented the father of a severely handicapped daughter, who was the victim of improper medical care when she was born, which resulted in recoveries in excess of $10,000,000.00. We represented the father in regard to matters before the Court relating to the care of his child, excessive expenditures for the construction of a residence, excessive expenditures being charged by a Trust Company, allegations of conflicts of interest relating to the Trust Company, and other matters. Our client was successful in regard to obtaining various Court Orders, including, but not limited to, having the Trust Company decrease its annual fees by approximately 50%.
We represented a client who had been charged by a State’s Attorney’s Office with operating a private dump. There were substantial sanctions sought to be imposed, including in excess of $100,000. We investigated the matter, met with the State’s Attorney’s Office, including at the site of the alleged private dump, and worked out a resolution whereby the case was dismissed without our client being found guilty of anything and without our client paying any fine.
We represented a wife in a divorce proceeding after she decided to change law firms. Her previous law firm thought she may have been hiding $250,000 in assets. A bank that provided financing to the husband and wife was claiming that there was missing collateral and there was a possibility of bank fraud charges for a series of Court proceedings which included hearings in Metropolis, Illinois, Anna, Illinois and Vienna, Illinois. A settlement was reached that met with the satisfaction of our client. Our client was cleared of any wrongdoing and received a substantial settlement to conclude the case.
We have handled hundreds and hundreds of real estate tax assessment complaints, possibly more than any other law firm in Metroeast, Illinois and Southern Illinois. As a result of successfully having assessments lowered, our work has saved clients, including individuals and businesses, millions of dollars. Clients have ranged from owners of an individual residences to bank holding companies having branch offices throughout the Southern Illinois area, not to mention everything in between.
We were involved in contested matter before the Illinois Department of Employment Security. After a former employee had applied for unemployment, the position was taken by the former employer that the former employee had voluntarily quit and was not entitled to unemployment. A resolution was reached whereby the former employee was able to receive unemployment while the insurance rates for the former employer remained the same.
We represented an individual who was not the natural father of a three (3) minor children, but who was basically raising the children. The natural mother had basically abandoned the children and the person we represented wished to have the legal right to have the children and raise them. Through various proceedings, including with the Department of Children and Family Services and the St. Clair County Circuit Court, we were involved in a resolution whereby the individual was allowed custody of the minor children even though he was not their natural father and did not adopt them.
We were involved in a case where the mother who had custody of the minor children pursuant to a dissolution of marriage proceeding wished to remove the children from Illinois to the State of Pennsylvania. It was demonstrated that the natural mother’s fiancé had an excellent career opportunity in Pennsylvania, that the school system and lifestyle for the children would be better and that accommodations could be made to increase the visitation of the natural father.
An individual hired us who had not filed Federal or State income tax returns for in excess of 20 years. The client basically did everything by cash, including paying his workers in that manner. We were able to come up with a strategy whereby certain returns would be filed and the client avoided the possibility of criminal prosecution for multiple counts of tax fraud, failure to file, failure to pay, etc.
We were involved with a client who was simultaneously being audited by the Internal Revenue Service , Illinois Department of Revenue, Illinois Department of Employment Security and the Illinois Department of Transportation. After extensive efforts on behalf of our client, the outcome was that there was no finding of any inappropriate conduct or wrongdoing by our client with respect to any of these agencies and it was determined that no amounts were due and owing for any reason, including, but not limited to, the Internal Revenue Service , Illinois Department of Revenue, and Illinois Department of Employment Security.
We were hired by a client in regard to an improper use of an easement by an adjoining landowner that would have resulted in a subdivision development, adjacent to our client’s farm, which our client vehemently opposed. We immediately filed suit against various parties and as a result of negotiations, a resolution was reached whereby any notion of a new subdivision was defeated, not to mention, reaching a new agreement with the parties in regard to a more limited use of any easement, which benefits our client, now and in the future.
We were contacted by a Canadian investor who had dairy farms in Fayette County, Illinois, area. There were allegations that milk production was down, including because suppliers provided poor quality feed and an improper diet mix, which resulted in decreased milk production. In that regard, the Canadian investor contacted our law firm after they believed their law firm in St. Louis was charging excessive fees under the facts and circumstances of the case.
We were involved representing a wife of a multi-millionaire who had business interests in Anna, Illinois. In that regard, our client had a prenuptial agreement that made no sense. She had not been represented by separate counsel and in the prenuptial agreement, after investigation, our research showed there had not been full disclosure of all assets by the husband. As a result, by having an invalid prenuptial agreement, our client was not prohibited from attempting to recover her fair share of marital assets upon dissolution of marriage.
We represented a group of individuals in regard to a contested estate. A person claiming to be the sole heir was about to make distribution to himself, after he had served as Administrator and after no will was discovered. Through investigation and efforts on our behalf, it was determined that the purported sole distributee was not an heir because he had been adopted, thereby terminating his right to inherit from his deceased natural father. This determination resulted in our clients being the sole known heirs, which enabled us to proceed with a recovery in excess of $500,000 on behalf of our clients.
Blake Law Group, P.C. has received an “AV” rating from Martindale-Hubbell Law Directory, the most trusted and respected service for rating attorneys in the United States. The “AV” rating is the highest possible rating for legal abilities and reputation by other lawyers.
We often receive referrals from other attorneys who may not practice, at least to the extent we do, in regard to certain areas of the law, including complex family matters. As a result, this has increased our volume of cases and expertise in this area of the law.
Geographical Areas of Practice
We handle various counties throughout Southern Illinois, including, but not limited to, St. Clair County, Illinois, Madison County, Illinois, Monroe County, Illinois, Jersey County, Illinois, Bond County, Illinois, Clinton County, Illinois, and various cities throughout Southern Illinois, including, but not limited to, Belleville, Illinois, Flora, Illinois, Salem, Illinois, DuQuoin, Illinois, Chester, Illinois, Anna, Illinois, Carbondale, Illinois, Marion, Illinois, as well as Metroeast, Illinois, cities, such as Belleville, Edwardsville, Collinsville, Waterloo, Alton, O’Fallon, Mascoutah, and Highland, Illinois.