Probate is the legal procedure and costs to validate and execute the terms of your will. Probate is an official process intended to ensure that taxes and debts are paid, and that remaining assets are distributed in accordance with the law.
A probate lawyer is a state-licensed attorney who works with the executors and the beneficiaries of an estate to settle the affairs of the decedent and to guide them through the requirement of Probate Court. In this video, estate planning and probate attorney Mario Godoy explains whether or not you need an attorney to complete the probate process.
In this video, we’re going to answer common questions as to whether you need an attorney to complete the probate process.
Whether you need to go through Probate Court depends on the size and the type of property that is within the estate. An estate is just a fancy legal term that encompasses all the possessions that are solely in the name of the deceased person. So everyone has a potential estate.
If you are in a situation where you do have to go to Probate Court, then you may require the assistance of an attorney. While you may make an initial deposit for the attorney’s services, that deposit is generally going to be reimbursed to you from the remaining assets when the estate is officially closed.
In Illinois, an estate is its own separate legal entity and the courts have consistently held that only a licensed attorney can represent an estate in court. We’ve been in court on numerous occasions where a person will attempt to open an estate on their own, without an attorney, and the judges have refused to do so.
There are other reasons why you would want to retain the services of an experienced probate lawyer. For instance, there are certain technical requirements that have to be followed. When they are not followed, the Probate Court can delay the closing of the estate for months. This will result in the surviving family members not having any access to the assets during that period.
Importantly, a personal representative can also be personally liable for actions which damage a creditor or damage someone who would have been a beneficiary of the estate. This applies even when you use a small estate affidavit. Watch our next video where we explain more about the small estate affidavit.
Because of personal liability, I think it’s always a good idea to consult with an attorney before taking major steps in relation to your loved one’s property or any part of the administrative issues of the estate.
If you’re interested in meeting us for a consultation, contact us at the number in this video.
If you have questions about Illinois probate or are the personal representative of a loved one’s estate,, an experienced probate lawyer can advise you on the best options for your situation. To talk to a qualified probate attorney in Chicago or Lombard, contact the Estate & Probate Legal Group at 630-864-5835.
We serve Cook, Dupage, Kane, Lake, and Will counties.