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How does probate work in Illinois?

How does probate work in Illinois?

Judge's gavel

Probate is a process that occurs in court and is sometimes, but not always, required after a person passes away. The main purpose of the probate process is to make it clear who should inherit the deceased person’s assets and ensure taxes and other debts are paid.

During this process, the estate’s executor, who is the person named in the deceased person’s estate planning documents with the help of an Illinois estate planning attorney, must have the estate’s assets appraised, identify and inventory the estate’s assets, pay the estate’s debts and taxes and distribute any remaining property.

When probate is necessary

Whether or not an estate is required to go through the probate process depends on the assets the deceased person owned and how he or she held title to them, regardless of whether or not there is a will. In most situations, the probate process only occurs when the cumulative value of all of the probate assets are worth more than $100,000 and if the estate’s assets were owned solely by the deceased person.

However, not all of an estate’s assets are subject to probate proceedings. For example, any assets held in a trust or ones that are subject to a beneficiary designation, like retirement accounts, do not have to go through the probate process.

How probate gets started

In Illinois, after a person dies, according to the Illinois Probate Act of 1975, the executor of the estate has 30 days after receiving knowledge that he or she is the executor to file the will in court to institute probate proceedings. Then the executor, often with the help of an Illinois estate planning attorney, sends notice to the estate’s heirs that the probate process will be taking place. A notice in the newspaper may also be posted to notify any creditors of the estate owner’s death.

Unless there is a problem with the will, the court will officially appoint the executor of the estate and give him or her control over the deceased person’s assets. If the court grants “independent administration,” the executor can take care of any estate-related actions without getting permission. However, if the court deems that “supervised administration” is necessary, any actions made by the executor must first gain approval from the court.

Most probate proceedings take about one year to complete from start to finish, unless the estate’s inheritors have issues with the assets or the terms contained within the will. Those who desire to avoid problems from arising after their death relating to their estate during the probate process should consider turning to an Illinois estate planning attorney who can help them accomplish this goal.

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