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What Steps Will Executors Need to Follow During the Probate Process?

Posted on in Estate Planning

shutterstock_1523981921-min.jpgThe death of a loved one can be difficult. In addition to dealing with the grief that comes from losing a beloved friend or family member, it will also be necessary to address the person’s final affairs. The person who was named as the executor of the deceased person’s estate will need to complete the probate process. An executor will want to be sure they fully understand their duties and responsibilities during this process, and with the help of an attorney, they can take steps to make sure their loved one’s final wishes will be followed correctly.

Understanding the Illinois Probate Process

A person’s last will and testament will name someone that they wish to serve as the executor of their estate, such as a family member or close friend. Following the person’s death, the executor will be required to do the following:

  1. File the will in probate court - By opening a probate case, the executor will begin the legal process of overseeing the estate. The court will officially appoint the person as the executor, giving them the right to administer the estate. In some cases, an executor may be required to post a bond, which will help ensure that they will administer the estate correctly.

  2. Notify heirs and creditors - The executor will be required to mail a written notice to the deceased person’s heirs that informs them of the probate case and gives them the right to challenge the will. Any creditors who may potentially have a claim against the estate should also be notified. If the address or contact information of certain heirs is unknown, notice may be published in a local newspaper for three consecutive weeks. This will also serve as a notice to unknown creditors, who will have six months to pursue claims and attempt to recover money that may have been owed to them by the decedent.

  3. Take an inventory of the estate - The executor will fully document all assets owned by the deceased person. These assets may include financial accounts, investments, real estate property, business interests, vehicles, and physical belongings. Certain types of assets may be able to be passed to beneficiaries outside of the probate process, and these may include assets held in trusts, retirement accounts with named beneficiaries, and accounts that have been designated as payable-on-death.

  4. Pay debts and expenses - Any outstanding debts owed by the deceased person will need to be paid. The executor will also file a tax return for the estate and pay any taxes that are owed. They may also pay other expenses related to the decedent’s property, such as utility bills or mortgage payments, and the assets of the estate may be used to cover the person’s funeral and burial expenses.

  5. Address challenges to the will - If the deceased person’s beneficiaries or family members who believe they have the right to inherit assets disagree with the will, they may pursue legal challenges. These challenges will generally be based on whether the will was valid, and the executor may defend against these challenges by showing that the will met all legal requirements. The executor may also respond to any claims by creditors and determine whether certain debts will need to be paid.

  6. Distribute assets to beneficiaries - Once any outstanding issues have been addressed, the executor will transfer ownership of the estate’s assets to the deceased person’s heirs based on the instructions provided in the will. After all of the estate’s assets have been properly distributed, the probate case can be officially closed.

Contact Our Evergreen Park Probate Lawyer

If you have been named as the executor of a loved one’s estate, The Marques Eason Law Group can provide you with legal help and representation during the probate process, ensuring that you follow the correct steps and complete all of your requirements. To learn how we can help you complete this process as quickly and efficiently as possible contact our South Side of Chicago estate administration attorney today at 312-973-3755.

Sources:

https://www.ilga.gov/legislation/ilcs/ilcs4.asp?DocName=075500050HArt%2E+VI&ActID=2104&ChapterID=60&SeqStart=7200000&SeqEnd=9400000

https://www.isba.org/sites/default/files/cle/Breakout%20Session%205A%20-%20Estate%20Administration.pdf

https://www.thebalance.com/what-are-probate-assets-an-overview-3505271

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