Understanding the Probate Process in Illinois

When a loved one passes on, it is hoped that the valuables collected over the course of his or her lifetime are passed down to others—children, siblings, friends—without contention. However, an unfortunate reality is that, in many cases, the court system has to get involved to determine who inherits a deceased individual’s assets. In Illinois, it is the probate court’s job to preside over this process.

Is Probate Court Always Necessary?

Probate courts are not always necessary for the distribution of assets. Conditions that require the use of a probate court include a deceased individual with assets totaling over $100,000, who owns his or her assets solely instead of jointly. There are assets, however, that do not require a probate court. Assets include the following:

  • Assets held in trust;
  • Assets owned in joint tenancy or tenancy by the entirety;
  • Assets subject to beneficiary designation; and
  • Real estate subject to an Illinois transfer-on-death deed.

Understanding whether the estate of a deceased loved one will have to go through probate court is a legal question that an Orland Park estate planning attorney can help you understand. When the total value of a deceased person’s estate is less than $100,000, a probate court is not necessary.

My Deceased Loved One Had a Will.  Is Probate Still Necessary?

It is likely that even though your deceased loved one drafted a legally sound will, probate proceedings still may follow his or her death. The party responsible for a probate proceeding is the individual named in the will as executor of the estate. If your loved one had no will, then an interested party must step up and ask the court to be appointed as administrator of the estate.

How Does Probate Begin?

Probate proceedings begin with the filing of a will by the executor. In most cases, executors hire a Will County estate planning attorney to file the additional paperwork needed to initiate a probate proceeding. Notice must be sent out to the remaining heirs of the deceased. Notice will also be sent out to potential creditors of the deceased.

Do I Need a Lawyer?

In most instances, the probate process is a litany of legal paperwork filing with the court. Hiring a knowledgeable Will County estate planning attorney can streamline the process. However, if heirs fight over the will or how the assets are dispersed, it can become a lengthy and contentious legal process.

If you are preparing to engage in the probate process after the death of a loved one, do not do so alone. The dedicated and relentless estate planning attorneys at Kezy & Associates are proven Will County probate litigation lawyers prepared to take your case on and fight for your rights and pursue your interest. Contact our Orland Park office at 708-518-8200 for your free consultation.