Law Office of Brian Dolan

Practice Areas

More than 20 years of legal experience.


The legal process of managing the assets and debts of a deceased person and properly distributing those assets according to law.

When someone dies with assets in his or her own name, be it money or property, the court must oversee the passing of those assets to the deceased person’s heirs and ensure resolution of debts.  Sometimes a formal administration is necessary, requiring the appointment of a representative. Other times abbreviated probate procedures are appropriate, and the process is slightly simpler.

Only an attorney familiar with this area of law can properly guide you in the right direction.

I can help you determine what proceeding is appropriate for your situation and navigate the court’s hurdles to ensure the process runs smoothly. I am available state-wide, though my practice tends to remain in the Lake and northern Cook County areas. 

Download my free pre-probate checklist.

Trust Administration

The administration of a trust is in some ways similar to the administration of a probate estate, the main goal being the proper distribution of trust assets.  A primary difference is that, in most cases, the courts are not involved in the administration of trusts.  Although possibly less complicated, there is still a myriad of rules regulating the administration of trusts.  I can help guide you through this process, ensuring compliance with relevant laws and rules, and ultimately distributing assets appropriately.

Estate Planning

Nobody likes to contemplate their own demise.  We are all going to live forever.  If only that were true.  Because it is not, it is important to plan ahead to ensure that your assets are distributed according to your direction; otherwise, the State says who gets your “stuff”, and it is really none of its business.  That is what estate planning is for.

Estate planning involves personal decisions on how best to pass assets upon your death according to your desires, whether through a will or trust or combination of each, as well as other estate planning tools.  Estate planning is also important during your lifetime so that you have a say in who is authorized to make important decisions on your behalf when you are unable to do so.

There are many considerations from whether you are married, whether you have children, their ages and levels of responsibility, and who would care for minors when you are gone to whether Uncle Sam or the State will be owed anything from your estate.  Again, without having a plan in place in advance, the government dictates what happens.

You may want to formally determine who will be authorized to make decisions about the handling of your affairs while you are still alive.  Accordingly, estate planning may also involve powers of attorney, health care surrogates and living wills.  While these are very powerful tools which should be considered judiciously, in many cases they can eliminate the need for very expensive and intrusive guardianship proceedings.  Instead of leaving these decisions in the hands of the courts, proper estate planning gives these powers to someone of your choosing, through the use of powers of attorney, health care surrogates and living wills.

It is not glamorous and it is not something you can take out and play with, but an appropriate estate plan is a gift of peace of mind for you and your family, knowing that the future has been handled.


It is a fact of life that touches many Americans that a loved one may become mentally incapacitated to handle his or her own affairs, be it simply due to that person’s youth, or through some form of dementia, other mental illnesses, or injury.  In such a situation another person must be authorized to make life’s decisions on behalf of your loved one.

With regard to a disabled adult, in the absence of other documents, such as powers of attorney or health care surrogates, a guardianship may be necessary when your loved one cannot take care of his or her physical needs, property or both. This is a court-involved process, which first determines that the person is unable to care for themselves and then appoints a suitable guardian.

A minor child may require a guardian appointed where both parents are unable to care for the child or where the child’s assets e.g., inheritance or injury settlement, exceed what the parent(s) is/are able to manage.

These are expensive proceedings and should not be approached lightly. Furthermore, once established, a guardianship for an adult lasts for the life of the incapacitated person, or unless rights can be restored; for a child until the child reaches her/his 18th birthday.