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How Are Probate Claims Paid in Illinois?

How Are Probate Claims Paid in Illinois?

money assets, probate lawyer

Ordinarily, when someone dies in Illinois, creditors are given the opportunity to file claims against that person’s estate, valid claims are paid, and remaining assets are distributed in accordance with the will or state law. To receive payment, creditors must file claims within a specified period and follow the correct procedures for filing.

Creditors have two years from the date of the decedent’s death to file a claim against an estate. The requirements for filing claims is relatively lax when compared to civil litigation. The claim merely needs to provide enough information to determine the amount, type, and nature of the claim. Once the period for filing claims is closed, the representative will either allow or disallow claims. Claims that are disallowed follow the normal litigation rules to determine if they should be allowed or remain disallowed.

Time to File a Claim

The statute of limitations to file a claim in probate is two years. However, the estate representative can shorten this time by providing notice to all known creditors. If a known creditor receives this notice – they must file their claim within three months of receipt of the notice. A creditor who doesn’t receive a personal notice has six months.

Filing Claims

The filing requirements for a claim are lax. The creditor need only file a document that identifies (1) the nature of the claim; (2) the type of debt; and (3) the amount. Creditors may file claims with the court, representative, or both. There is a filing fee to file a claim with the court, therefore, some creditors file their claims with the representative and only file with the court if their claim is disallowed.

Litigating Disallowed Claims

If a claim is disallowed, the creditor of the disallowed claim may contest that finding at court. The process will proceed under normal court procedure (i.e., conducting discovery, motion work, opportunities to settle, and presenting evidence and testimony at trial). However, one important rule of evidence that is frequently invoked in probate court is the Dead-Man’s Act which prohibits parties interested in the outcome of the case from testifying for their own benefit. Therefore, the validity of claims must be proved with documentary or physical evidence or by testimony from uninterested witnesses.

The Priority of Claims

However, just because a claim is allowed, does not mean it will collect from the estate. Each claim is assigned to one of seven classes. If the estate can satisfy all claims – then the classes don’t matter. However, if the estate cannot, then the claims with lower classifications will collect first until the estate is exhausted.

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