James R. Hellige



James R. Hellige is a partner and estate planning, trust and non-profit organization lawyer with Foley & Lardner LLP where he concentrates his practice on estate planning, probate, trust law, sophisticated charitable giving, and related areas of income, gift, estate and generation-skipping taxation. James is a member of the firm’s Estate Planning Practice.

Professional Memberships

James' extensive professional activities include membership in the American College of Trust and Estate Counsel; the American Bar Association (Real Property, Trust and Estate Law Section and Section of Taxation); the Chicago Bar Association (Probate Practice Committee and Trust Law Committee), where he was chair of the Probate Practice Committee; the Chicago Estate Planning Council; and the Chicago Council on Planned Giving, where he was a member of the board of directors.


James was presented with the 2013 Russell V. Kohr Memorial Award for Excellence in Planned Giving by the Chicago Council on Planned Giving.

James was listed in the 2020 edition of Chambers USA: America's Leading Business Lawyers in the practice area of Private Wealth Law and has been Peer Review Rated as AV Preeminent®, the highest performance rating in Martindale-Hubbell® Peer Review Ratings™ system. He has been selected by his peers for inclusion in The Best Lawyers in America© in the fields of Non-Profit/Charities Law (2007, 2010-2023) and Trusts and Estates (2005, 2010-2023) and was named the 2017 Non-Profit/Charities Law “Lawyer of the Year” in Chicago. He was also selected for inclusion in the Illinois Super Lawyers® lists (2005-2016) for his estate planning and probate work.*


James earned his law degree from the University of Notre Dame (J.D., cum laude, 1976), where he served as associate articles editor for the Notre Dame Law Review. He received his undergraduate degree from Saint Mary's University of Minnesota (B.A., summa cum laude, 1973).

Community Involvement

James is a member of the charitable advisory council to the attorney general of the State of Illinois and served on its legislative committee from 2001 to 2003. He is a member of the advisory board of the Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of Chicago and is the chair of the planned giving subcommittee. He is also a member of the planned giving advisory council of the Newberry Library in Chicago, the professional advisory committee of The Chicago Community Trust, the planned giving advisory committee of WTTW-Channel 11 public television in Chicago, the professional advisory committee of the Lincoln Park Zoo, the professional advisory committee of the Art Institute of Chicago, the professional advisory council for the Chicago Foundation for Women, and the planned giving advisory council for The Salvation Army.


He is admitted to the bar in Illinois and is also admitted to practice before the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois and the U.S. Tax Court.

Publications and Presentations

James is a frequent speaker, and has lectured before many professional and lay groups, including the following: University of Southern California Institute on Federal Taxation; Notre Dame Tax & Estate Planning Institute; Northwestern University Estate Planning Advisory Council Symposium; Estate Planning Council of Greater Miami; Central Arizona Estate Planning Council; Chicago Estate Planning Council; Illinois Institute for Continuing Legal Education; Chicago Bar Association; Council for the Advancement and Support of Education; National Society of Fundraising Executives; Chicago Council on Planned Giving; Suburban Chicago Planned Giving Council; and the American Bar Association’s Section of Real Property, Trust and Estate Law.

James is author and co-author of chapters, books and articles including:

  • Chapter 14, “Charitable Litigation,” in Litigating Disputed Estates, Trusts, Guardianships, and Charitable Bequests (Illinois Institute for Continuing Legal Education Practice Book 2012) 
  • "Charitable Giving and the Generation-Skipping Tax," 130 Trusts & Estates No. 5, 34 (May 1991)
  • "Sophisticated Charitable Giving: Techniques and Problems," 41 Major Tax Planning 1100 (Matthew Bender & Company, Inc. 1989)
  • "Temporary Regulations Help to Answer Some Questions," 128 Trusts & Estates No. 2, 55 (February 1989)
  • The New Generation-Skipping Tax: Analysis, Planning and Drafting (Northwestern University 1987)
  • "A New Set of Complexities," 126 Trusts & Estates Nos. 3 & 4, 8 & 10 (March & April 1987)
  • "Strategies to Use While Awaiting Possible Repeal of the Generation-Skipping Tax," 125 Trusts & Estates No. 2, 42 (February 1986)
  • "An Overall Look at Planned Giving Options," 16 Fund Raising Management No. 12 74 (February 1986)
  • "Coping With the Generation-Skipping Transfer Tax," 69 Illinois Bar Journal 166 & 228 (1980); 16 ABA’s Law Notes 103 (1980); 5 Oklahoma Bar Journal 2510, 2829 & 3093 (1981)

*The Illinois Supreme Court does not recognize certifications of specialties in the practice of law and no award or recognition is a requirement to practice law in Illinois.