As defined by Illinois law, probate is the legal process by which a deceased person’s final debts are paid, and his or her property is distributed to those entitled to it. Usually, it is through some court process or court supervision. Individuals going through the Lombard probate process may want to reach out to a seasoned lawyer. A dedicated probate attorney could stand by your side throughout the probate proceedings.
In most cases, the first step in the probate process is to file a petition whereby an individual is asking that he or she is appointed as personal representative of the estate. That petition is usually filed in the county where the person resided at the time of his or her death. For example, if someone were living in Lombard when he or she passed away, his or her petition would be filed in DuPage County. This petition also states whether or not the decedent, meaning the dead person in all these cases, died with or without a will.
If the decedent died after having signed a valid will, the decedent is considered to have died testate. However, if the decedent died without signing a will, the decedent is deemed to have died intestate. That distinction could have several significant effects on how an estate is administered. After the petition is filed, the attorney for the perspective representative appears in court and obtains an order appointing the person as a personal representative for the estate.
If there is a will, the court rule would also enter an order admitting the will to probate as long as the will meets specific basic requirements. It is usually done in a summary fashion without requiring the testimony of any witnesses to the will or any complicated court proceedings. Once that order is entered, that appoints the representative, and the estate is considered to have been opened. The personal representative must give notice to all creditors, heirs, or beneficiaries of the estate that the estate has been opened. Then the personal representative with the assistance of his or her attorney would begin to inventory the assets of the estate.
With the marshal of the assets, the personal representative prepares an inventory reflecting the nature of all those assets. He or she sells any personal properties, such as vehicles and real estate, such as a house or a building. He or she also determines any final debts of the decedent. Once everything has been marshaled at one place and all the debts are paid, the personal representative would divide and distribute the estate’s assets, directed by the will or in accordance with the heirship in the Illinois intestacy statute. The representative would prepare an accounting of his or her actions as a representative. An account would usually contain a record of every transaction that the estate made, including the receipts and disbursements. Once all the heirs or the beneficiaries approve that accounting, the estate is closed and the representative is discharged.
In most cases, the probate process in Lombard takes between six months to a year. Many factors can impact the length of the probate process. The most common one is the marketability of any real estate. If it takes a long time to sell a house, the probate estate has to remain open until it is sold. In complex cases, mainly when there are contested issues among the beneficiaries, the probate estate could remain open for several years before it is closed.
In the vast majority of cases, a personal representative will never have to go to court for probate proceedings. Instead his or her lawyer appears on his or her behalf. In straightforward administration cases, the hope is that the lawyer would only have to attend court twice, once when the estate is opened and once more when the estate is closed. Sometimes when an estate takes longer than anticipated to close, the lawyer would need to attend to court a third time, because there is usually a set status date that the lawyer would have to visit and briefly explain to the judge why the estate is not closed yet. In cases in which there is some extended litigation, such as a will contest or an adversarial proceeding within an estate, the lawyer could wind up in court many times throughout the period of years.
In most cases, the Lombard probate process ends after the creditors, and the beneficiaries or heirs of the decedent have received all the assets that they are entitled to and they have approved the administration of the representative. For example, in DuPage County, it generally means that the administrator or the representative would prepare a final report.
The representative’s attorney then obtains and files documents from all those interested persons, like the creditors, beneficiaries, and heirs. It is a document evidencing that all those things have been completed and that they have proof of the administration. When those are filed along with the final report, the court will close the estate, which signifies the end of the probate process.