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How Will Changes to the Probate Act Affect Illinois?

The Illinois General Assembly has passed two acts that will affect the Probate Act. These are Public Act 98-1082 and Public Act 98-0833. The Probate Act of 1975 is the primary legal document relating to probate, descent and distribution of a deceased person’s estate in Illinois. Since 1975, it has provided state guidelines for such areas of contention as wills, guardianships, estates, administrators and the appeals process.

Will Changes to the Probate Act Affect Guardianships?

Public Act 98-1082 deals with the rules involving minors who move out of state, along with rules regarding short-term guardianships for minors. A major reason for this is to avoid a separate court proceeding when removing a minor from the state to live with an out-of-state short-term guardian. This law also gives a short-term guardian rebuttable presumption. This means that the court will assume that it is in the best interest of the minor to be in the care of the appointed short-term guardian unless evidence can prove otherwise.

In Illinois, a short-term guardian is someone who is chosen to be a minor’s legal guardian for a period of up to a year. Potential guardians must be at least 18 years old, live in the United States and be of sound mind. Additionally, the guardian cannot have a history of abuse towards minors, the disabled or elderly people.

Will Changes to the Probate Act Affect Inheritance?

Public Act 98-0833 disinherits anyone found civilly liable by evidence for financially exploiting elderly or disabled persons. This includes the misappropriation of assets or resources by undue influence, fraud, extortion, conversion, deception or a breach of the fiduciary relationship. Previously, a criminal conviction was required to disinherit in these events.

Estate planning attorneys can also aid in disinheriting a beneficiary if you wish to update your estate plan. They can also write the specific details of your wishes clearly so that they cannot be misconstrued – a disinherited beneficiary may try challenge the document in court.

Do All Assets Go Through a Probate?

Not all assets go through a probate proceeding in Illinois. Certain trusts are designed to avoid probates. Additionally, jointly owned assets, payable-on-death bank accounts and real estate with transfer-on-death deeds can avoid them as well. Generally, the probate process is only necessary if assets were solely owned by the deceased person and if the probate assets are worth more than $100,000.

An estate attorney can review your estate plan to inform you on what assets will be subject to the probate process. Additionally, an attorney can amend your current estate plan in light of these recent changes to the probate law. Contact the Des Plaines estate planning lawyers at MacDonald, Lee & Senechalle, Ltd. today to get started. We have a history of successfully protecting our clients’ assets.

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