If you died without a will in Illinois, your estate is designated intestate. Intestate laws divide a person’s property based on the family relationships that are in existence at the time of their death. The will could be lost, could have been destroyed, or could have been revoked, but there is no will that can be admitted to probate. In those cases, a person constitutes having died intestate.
In Illinois, if you died without a will and have children but no spouse, Illinois intestacy law says surviving children inherit everything. Once the estate goes through probate and all outstanding fees, bills, taxes and estate debts are settled, the deceased’s heirs take ownership of their property and other assets. If you inherit property, you are free to sell that property once the estate is settled, to live in the home yourself or to use the home as an investment property.
As the new owner of the property, if you decide to sell your mother’s home you will pay any capital gains taxes that are due if the home has increased in value since the deceased purchased the home. A probate and estate planning attorney can advise you on how to avoid or minimize any capital gains taxes.
You can protect your heirs by creating an estate plan that will avoid going through intestacy and probate court. Here are 3 ways an estate planning attorney can help your estate avoid being intestate and going through probate court in Illinois:
1. Set up a Revocable Living Trust
In a living trust, your assets are transferred during your lifetime. When you die, the trust continues so that the assets do not need to be probated. A living trust may either be created as revocable or irrevocable. Illinois does not use the Uniform Probate Code so it can be beneficial to make a living trust to avoid Illinois’ complex probate process.
2. Establish Joint Ownership of Property
After someone dies, jointly owned property passes to the surviving owner. It is an easy way to avoid probate and does not require any additional paperwork. Illinois’ Joint Tenancy with Right of Survivorship means that two people – typically a husband and wife – co-own the property in equal shares. When one person dies, the other co-owner automatically becomes the owner of the property, even if there is no will. This is called the right of survivorship.
3. Name Beneficiaries on Your Accounts
Life insurance proceeds, savings accounts, retirement benefits and other accounts should have named beneficiaries. If your accounts name your chosen beneficiary, when you die your money in that account is directly transferred to your named beneficiary without undergoing probate.
An estate planning attorney can help you create a legal strategy to protect your assets for your heirs and avoid the cost, time and stress of probate court. If your family member died without a will and their estate is ruled intestate, an Illinois probate attorney can help you navigate the probate court system and close the estate.
Do you have questions about probate laws in Illinois? Our experienced estate and probate attorneys in Cook, Dupage, Kane, Lake, and Will counties in Illinois can advise you on the best options to protect your assets and loved ones. To talk to a trust attorney contact the Estate & Probate Legal Group at 630-864-5835.