Probate and Estate Administration
When someone dies, their loved ones typically focus on the process of laying the person to rest and adjusting to the grief caused by their loss. In time, however, the deceased person’s estate must be settled, which usually requires the process of probate. Numerous issues can arise during probate and estate administration, and it is smart for anyone recently faced with the death of a loved one to contact an attorney to discuss what measures they can take to protect their interests and uphold their loved one’s wishes. If you recently suffered the loss of a loved one and need help with the probate and estate administration process, the seasoned LaGrange estate planning lawyers of Wilson & Wilson Estate Planning & Elder Law LLC can inform you of your options and aid you by developing a plan that will meet your needs. We regularly assist people with probate and estate administration matters in LaGrange and other cities throughout Illinois.Illinois Laws Regarding Wills
Illinois probate laws define the requirements for executing a binding and effective will. First, the person drafting the will, or testator, must be at least eighteen years old and of sound mind, and the will needs to be written. In other words, oral wills are not valid. Further, the will must be signed not only by the testator but also by a minimum of two witnesses. The witnesses must sign the will while they are in the presence of the testator. Wills executed outside of Illinois will be recognized by Illinois, but only if they were drafted and signed in accordance with the laws of the state where they were executed. Illinois provides numerous ways parties can revoke wills, including burning, tearing, or canceling them or drafting a new will.Probate and Estate Administration in Illinois
Probate is the legal process of administering a deceased person’s estate. As such, when a person dies, someone, usually the person named as the executor in the deceased person’s will, will apply for the probate of the estate in the probate court located in the county where the deceased person lived. If the deceased person did not have a will or did not name an executor in their will, the court will appoint an administrator. The executor or administrator is in charge of administering the deceased person’s estate under the court’s guidance.
If the deceased person died without a will, their estate will be distributed in accordance with Illinois’ intestacy laws. In other words, their assets and debts will be divided among their next of kin in the order set forth in the probate laws.
If the deceased person had a will, it will be submitted to the probate court, after which the court typically will hold a hearing to assess whether the will is valid. If the will is deemed valid, the executor will take control of all the estate property and create an inventory indicating the estate’s debts and assets. The executor must also notify the decedent’s potential creditors of probate by mailing them a notice and publishing a newspaper notice for three consecutive weeks in the county where the decedent lived. This allows creditors to submit any unsettled claims to the estate. After the executor or administrator deals with unpaid claims, pays applicable estate taxes and submits a financial report to the court, any remaining assets will be distributed to any beneficiaries, and the estate will be closed.
Notably, certain properties, like property in a trust, life insurance policies, or retirement accounts with a designated beneficiary, and property the testator owned with another individual as a joint tenant with a right of survivorship, can avoid the probate process. If the value of an estate is below a certain threshold, it will not have to go through probate either.Confer With a Skillful LaGrange Estate Planning Lawyer
It is smart for all people to draft thorough and detailed wills and to regularly review their wills to assess whether they are still sufficient to meet their desires. If you need help preparing or revising a will or handling probate and estate administration, the skillful LaGrange estate planning attorneys of Wilson & Wilson Estate Planning & Elder Law LLC can guide you through the process and help you decide the best way to proceed to safeguard your interests. We regularly help people with estate planning matters in Cook County, including Chicago, Arlington Heights, Cicero, Hoffman Estates, Mount Prospect, Palatine, Schaumburg, Evanston, Skokie, and Tinley Park, DuPage County, including Naperville, Aurora, and Wheaton, and Lake County including Buffalo Grove, Mundelein, Highland Park, and Waukegan. Our main office is in LaGrange, and we have a second office in Northbrook. We also have offices in Orland Park and Warrenville, where we can meet clients by appointment. You can reach us via our form online or at our LaGrange office at (708) 482-7090 or our Northbrook Office at (847) 656-8958 to set up a meeting.