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Understanding Illinois Probate Laws

Probate is the process of settling a decedent’s estate in court. Probate laws vary by state, and where you will need to file a probate action depends on the decedent’s residence at the time of his or her death and the location of his or her real property. An experienced Des Plaines attorney can help you understand and complete the probate process.

Probate in Illinois

The probate process in Illinois includes several steps:

  • First, a probate case is opened in the county where the decedent last resided
  • If the decedent owned real property in any other states, ancillary probate cases will also need to be opened in each of those states
  • Notice of the pending probate case(s) must be issued to all heirs named in the will or to statutory heirs if there is no will
  • If there is a will, the court will appoint an executor
  • If there is no will, the court will appoint an administrator
  • The appointed executor or administrator must complete an inventory and appraisal of all estate assets
  • Estate debts must be paid to rightful creditors for a minimum period of six months
  • Estate assets are sold and applicable estate taxes are paid
  • Final distributions are made to heirs and applicable income taxes are paid

Executors can be held liable for mismanaging estate assets. As such, they should work with a qualified Hoffman Estates lawyer to ensure they fully understand and fulfill their fiduciary duties as required by Illinois law. Also, executors will need to know which of their expenses the estate will reimburse and how to go about obtaining reimbursement.

When Probate Is Not Required in Illinois

In most cases, if a decedent set up a living trust prior to his or her death, the trust assets can be administered and transferred without going through probate.

Moreover, if a decedent’s estate is less than $100,000 and meets all other requirements of a small estate, an interested person can sign a small estate affidavit, which will enable him or her to distribute estate assets to the proper persons. This document will not enable the affiant to transfer real property, however.

A bond in lieu of probate, on the other hand, can sometimes be used to transfer a decedent’s real property without opening a probate case.

If your loved one recently passed away, contact a knowledgeable Des Plaines attorney to determine whether probate and/or other processes will be necessary to fully administer the estate.

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