It is a myth that if you have a will, your estate will not go through probate.
Fact: Probate is the legal process for the court to put the conditions of your will into effect. If you have a will, those assets only covered in your will go through probate court. During the probate process, the court makes sure any taxes and debts owed by the deceased are paid, and any assets left after taxes and debts are paid are given to the beneficiaries named in the will.
Not every estate needs to go through probate. Formal probate is typically required only when the assets solely owned by the deceased are valued at more than $100,000. If your assets are valued at more than $100,000 an estate planning attorney can help you protect the future of your loved ones, and avoid the cost and stress of probate.
If you want to avoid the cost and stress of having your estate go through the probate process, there are estate planning strategies that you can use to protect your assets and your heirs. Here are 3 ways an estate planning attorney can help your estate avoid probate in Illinois:
1. 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. 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.
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.
If you want to avoid Illinois probate costs and protect your loved ones after you are gone, 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.