During his five-decade career, James Lestikow has focused his practice on estate planning, including planning for wealth transfers through lifetime gifts and wills and trusts to accomplish the clients’ goals and minimize transfer taxes. This may include personal, business, retirement, and farm assets, as well as charitable gift strategies.
James will draft all necessary documents to implement a plan, including advance directives, to allow management of assets and payables and make health care decisions in the event of temporary or permanent disability. He also represents clients in guardianship estates where applicable.
James has served on the American College of Trust and Estate Counsel (ACTEC) Asset Protection Committee and can advise strategies to protect personal and business assets from creditors. In the event a closely held business is involved in the estate, he can suggest and implement strategies for succession planning.
Representation in probate and trust administration is also available, including resolving issues in estate administration document language and disputes over trusts or with trustees. James also handles revisions of trusts that no longer serve the purpose for which they were drafted.
Early in his career, James was an adjunct professor, teaching business law at Sangamon State University (now University of Illinois – Springfield) and enjoyed teaching. He finds the same reward in helping clients understand difficult concepts involved in complex estate planning and implementing the components. When not working, he and his wife enjoy traveling abroad and spending time with their grandchild.
Co-General Editor, “Postmortem Estate Planning,” Illinois Institute for Continuing Legal Education (2010 and 2014)
Chapter Editor, “Asset Protection,” Postmortem Estate Planning, Illinois Institute for Continuing Legal Education (2010 and 2014)
General Editor, “Estate Planning for Illinois Lawyers – The Basics and Beyond,” Illinois Institute for Continuing Legal Education (2001, 2005, 2008 and 2011)
Co-General Editor, “Asset Protection Planning,” Illinois Institute for Continuing Legal Education (2007, Supp. 2010)
U.S. Supreme Court
University of Illinois, J.D., 1973
Northern Illinois University, B.S., 1970
American College of Trust and Estate Counsel (ACTEC) (2001 – present)
Illinois Institute for Continuing Legal Education (IICLE), Past Board Member and Chair (2010 – 2021)
Illinois Bar Foundation, Past Board Member and Chair (2004 – 2015)
Greater Springfield Chamber of Commerce, Illinois, Past Board Member and Chair (2008 – 2014)
State Bar Association Section Council on Estates and Trusts, Member and Chair (1990 – 1998); Member (2010 – present)
Sangamon Valley Estate Planning Council, Past Board Member and Chair (1999)
Lincoln-Douglas American Inn of Court (2013 – present)
The Best Lawyers in America®, Trusts and Estates (2007-2022)
The Best Lawyers in America®, Lawyer of the Year for Trusts and Estates, Central Illinois (2014 and 2017)
AV Preeminent ®, Martindale Hubble Peer Review Rating
Leading Lawyers Network (2003 – present)
Leading Lawyers Network, Advisory Committee
Top 10 Downstate Lawyers, Leading Lawyers (2019)
Top 10 Will and Estate Planning Lawyers, Leading Lawyers (2019)
Illinois Super Lawyers (2007-2022)