Understanding the Illinois Probate Process

The probate process in Illinois is a court-supervised legal procedure that is sometimes required after a person's death. Its purpose is to make clear who inherits the deceased person's property and ensure that valid debts and taxes are paid. Under Illinois law, a will is the judicial process of administering the estate of a deceased person. This is done by resolving all claims related to the estate and distributing the deceased person's assets under a valid will or under the intestate succession laws of the State of Illinois. Contrary to popular belief, Illinois probate law is not necessarily bad and the process can be quite simple and routine.

It is important to understand when probate is required, how to avoid it, how an executor can be compensated, how long it takes, what assets must go through probate, and other related topics. The probate process in Illinois begins when an executor (also called a personal representative) files the will in the county where the deceased person lived. This must be done within a reasonable period of time after the person's death. Assets held jointly will be transferred to the surviving owner without having to go through probate court proceedings.

The executor may need to hire a tax professional to advise on income taxes and the tax consequences of estate decisions. The costs associated with legalizing an estate in Illinois must be paid throughout the administration. A lawyer is usually hired to prepare and submit the necessary documents to initiate the probate process. Depending on the size of the estate and how supported the courts are, succession can take months or even years. A properly drafted will that covers all of your bases can help speed up the probate process when the time comes. Before assets can be distributed to beneficiaries, all expenses related to probate must be paid out of estate assets.

Instead of filing a formal probate, an heir may use an affidavit to claim inheritance. The probate process should allow time for creditors to be notified, required income tax returns filed, and any disputes resolved. Careful advance planning, including the use of living trusts, can reduce or eliminate the need for loved ones to wait for probate to finish. The order to discharge and close an estate is usually the end of the probate process.

Kathleen Huelsman
Kathleen Huelsman

Infuriatingly humble social media maven. Amateur internet expert. Award-winning music junkie. Extreme problem solver. Extreme twitter buff.

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