The probate process may seem daunting, but it is necessary in distributing assets and managing debt after someone passes away. The duration and complexity of the probate process will depend on various factors, including whether the deceased person (the decedent) has a will, whether the estate is contested, and the nature of the assets involved.
If you are currently dealing with this process, speak with a Chicago probate lawyer at the Marques Eason Law Group. An experienced attorney at our firm could walk you through the probate proceedings and help you manage concerns regarding assets, liabilities, and other matters that may arise.
Identifying Probate Assets
Having a will in place can certainly simplify the probate process. When a person passes away without a valid will at the time of their death, the matter will proceed to “intestate” probate. This means that the laws of Illinois would dictate who inherits what from the decedent. However, when a decedent leaves a will behind, that document can dictate the distribution of assets, and the matter would proceed through the “testate” probate process.
The probate process generally applies in a few circumstances. These circumstances include the following:
- The decedent's probate assets are valued at more than $100,000
- The decedent's probate assets include real estate assets that are not owned jointly, in a trust, or designated to transfer on death
- The will or estate is contested
In other cases, it may be possible to administer the estate via a Small Estate Affidavit rather than formal probate. Additionally, several types of assets are not subject to probate at all. These include assets placed in a trust, jointly owned assets, and assets with a designated beneficiary, such as retirement accounts. Real estate assets held in a trust, transferred on death, or held jointly (i.e., with the decedent's spouse) would not go through probate either.
Depending on how the decedent's estate was structured, it may be possible to avoid probate altogether. However, the probate process does have some key benefits; it provides dispute resolution if the decedent's will is contested, an organized means of distributing assets, the oversight of probate court, and the ability to safeguard the decedent's assets from potentially nefarious parties. A skilled Chicago attorney like Marques Eason can provide step-by-step assistance for a wide range of probate cases.
Overview of the Chicago Probate Process
Typically, the probate process begins when a petition is submitted to the court, transmitting the will into probate and recognizing the appointment of an executor for the estate. The court would designate an administrator if the decedent died without a will.
A lawyer is required for probate cases in Illinois. Seasoned legal representation can assist the executor or administrator and provide peace of mind throughout the process. A local attorney could also advocate for interested parties and beneficiaries in a probate case.
Executor Duties in the Probate Process
After an executor or administrator is formally appointed, they will initiate the process of contacting any companies to whom the decedent owed debt. This would allow these entities and persons to file a claim against the estate to recoup the value of the decedent's outstanding liabilities. The executor or administrator would also thoroughly review all assets at stake.
The executor or administrator would pay out any of the estate's financial obligations. They would then disburse the assets to the decedent's beneficiaries according to the provisions outlined in their will. Without a will, the decedent's assets would be disbursed under the intestate legal process. Some probate cases can resolve in several months, while others require a year or longer. Working with an experienced Chicago lawyer is the best way to navigate the probate process efficiently.
Contact a Chicago Probate Attorney for Legal Assistance
Dealing with the legal complexities of probate law can be difficult for anyone, especially when grieving the loss of a loved one. A Chicago probate lawyer at our firm is here to explain every step of the proceedings and support you in this challenging time.
If you have questions about how probate works in Illinois or need legal counsel for any aspect of the process, do not hesitate to reach out to our office. Call the Marques Eason Law Group now to set up your case consultation.
I Ain't Done Living Yet
I Ain't Done Living Yet is a story of survival—on March 18, 2020, Marques Eason was admitted to the hospital after experiencing symptoms, and ultimately testing positive for, the coronavirus (COVID-19). Fifteen days under sedation (on a ventilator), two dialysis sessions, two blood transfusions, internal bleeding, blood clots in my left leg and my right hand, a battle with pneumonia, a stroke, and the tips of two right fingers amputated…yet he lived to tell his COVID-19 story:
There is no question that my faith, as well as that of my close friends and family members, was tested during this difficult, uncertain time, as it had been at other times throughout my life. But as always, God had a purpose for me; He put me through the various challenges of financial stress, homelessness, and a seven-year struggle to (ultimately) pass the Illinois bar exam, in part, to prepare me for His purpose.
This story encourages us to see that there is life after the virus, and that, as with anything, you can fall down, make a lifetime of missteps and mistakes, yet still rise again and truly thrive, better than ever.