The probate process can sound daunting, but following the proper steps and working with an estate and probate attorney will help you. Many of our clients are surprised to learn that the courts are usually involved, even if someone has an uncontested will. And this leads to a commonly asked question – how long does probate take in Illinois?
Probate is the legal process in which the courts review and validate someone’s will before distributing the assets. A probate judge will oversee the process and protect anyone who has a legal interest in the estate. This can include beneficiaries and creditors.
An estate of less than $100,000 with no real estate can avoid probate and be handled through the use of a small estate affidavit.
An executor is the representative who will carry out the wishes in the deceased person’s will. They also oversee the estate, pay the bills, close all accounts and finally close the person’s estate. If the deceased did not name an executor, the probate judge would assign someone, usually a friend or family member, to be in charge.
The length of probate can vary depending on several factors, but in general, probate in Illinois can take at least a year. It can be longer depending on the following:
If there are family fights and anyone contests the will, the probate process can take several years. The executor must still pay all outstanding bills, taxes and other expenses during this time.
But there are ways to avoid probate court. One such way is to have a living trust instead of a will. A trust allows you to transfer your assets into the trust while you are still alive. These assets will then be distributed via an executor of the trust to your named beneficiaries. Another reason many people use a trust is that when a will goes through probate court, it becomes a public record for anyone to search and see, whereas a trust remains private.
Working with an experienced probate attorney can help you through this process, from answering basic questions to helping you fight against someone contesting the will.
Do you have questions about what happens during probate? To talk to a probate, trust and estates attorney contact the Estate & Probate Legal Group at 630-864-5835.
AREAS WE SERVE: Cook, Dupage, Kane, Lake and Will counties