James R. Hellige



James R. Hellige is an estate planning, trust, and nonprofit organization lawyer, concentrating 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 partner in the firm’s Estates & Trusts Practice. 

Professional Memberships 

James' extensive professional activities include membership in the following:

  • American College of Trust and Estate Counsel
  • American Bar Association (Real Property, Trust and Estate Law Section and Section of Taxation)
  • Chicago Bar Association (Probate Practice Committee and Trust Law Committee), former chair of the Probate Practice Committee
  • Chicago Estate Planning Council
  • Chicago Council on Planned Giving


  • Presented with the 2013 Russell V. Kohr Memorial Award for Excellence in Planned Giving by the Chicago Council on Planned Giving
  • Listed in the 2020 edition of Chambers USA: America's Leading Business Lawyers in the practice area of Private Wealth Law
  • 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)
  • Named the 2017 Non-Profit/Charities Law “Lawyer of the Year” in Chicago
  • Selected for inclusion in the Illinois Super Lawyers® lists (2005-2023) for his estate planning and probate work*
  • Recipient of the Dennis F. Kelly Award from Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of Chicago for outstanding service to the mission of Catholic Charities (2017)


  • University of Notre Dame (J.D., cum laude, 1976)
    • Associate articles editor for the Notre Dame Law Review
  • Saint Mary's University of Minnesota (B.A., summa cum laude, 1973)

Community Involvement 

  • Advisory board member, Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of Chicago
    • Chair of the planned giving subcommittee
  • Member, WTTW-Channel 11 public television
    • Planned giving advisory committee
  • Member, Lincoln Park Zoo
    • Professional advisory committee
  • Member, The Salvation Army
    • Planned giving advisory council


  • Illinois
  • U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois
  • 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
  • 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.