Why You Need a Hoffman Estates Probate Attorney
When a person dies in Illinois, his or her estate may need to go through probate, a court-managed process of settling the estate. If the decedent left a will, the probate court will validate it and distribute the estate according to the terms of the will. If the decedent died without a will, or if the will is invalid, the court will distribute the estate according to Illinois intestacy laws, also known as intestate succession laws. If you have been named as executor in a loved one’s will, or if your family member died without a will, an experienced Hoffman Estates attorney can help you understand and navigate the entire estate administration process.
The Probate Process
Typically, probate involves the following steps:
- Filing a petition with the appropriate probate court
- Noticing heirs named in the will, or statutory heirs if there is no will
- Seeking appointment of an executor in accordance with the will, or appointment of an administrator if there is no will
- Completing an inventory and appraisal of estate assets
- Paying estate debts for at least six months
- Selling estate assets
- Paying estate taxes, if any
- Distributing assets to heirs
- Paying income taxes, if any
Executors usually receive reimbursement for any legitimate out-of-pocket expenses they incur while managing and distributing the estate. Depending on the size of the estate, an executor may also be entitled to reasonable fees for services, contingent upon court and beneficiary approval. If an executor mismanages estate assets, he or she can be held personally liable by the probate court, making it important to work with a qualified Hoffman Estates lawyer throughout the entire probate process.
Alternatives to Probate
Not all estates need to go through probate. Depending on the size and nature of the estate, as well as what estate planning was done prior to the decedent’s passing, you may be able to settle it with trust administration, a small estate affidavit, a bond in lieu of probate, or some combination thereof. How you settle the estate will depend on a variety of facts and circumstances. A knowledgeable Hoffman Estates attorney can determine what type of estate administration is necessary and then help you complete the process.
If you need assistance with estate administration or estate planning, contact a dedicated Hoffman Estates lawyer today.