Probate is an official legal process intended to ensure that taxes and debts are paid after someone dies, and that all remaining assets are distributed in accordance with the law. In many situations, formal probate is required only when the assets solely owned by the deceased are valued at more than $100,000. Not every estate is required to go through probate. An estate is simply a term referring to the assets and liabilities left behind when someone dies. For instance, an estate might consist of a car, a bank account and debts such as credit card and utility bills.
Many people know that a good estate plan should try to avoid the cost and stress of probate court – but they don’t know what. Generally, the person named as executor in the deceased person’s will bears responsibility for handling probate – but knows very little about probate and hires an experienced probate attorney to handle the legal process.
Probate is not the only way to close a deceased person’s estate. It is the default process if there is only a will in place or if the deceased left no will. The probate process will happen unless you take steps to avoid probate. Avoiding probate is often a primary goal in doing estate planning. Here are some Illinois probate facts and figures that demonstrate why you may want to make estate plans so that your loved ones do not have to endure the cost and stress of probate court.
The average length of time to settle an estate in Illinois probate court is 9 months – but it can take months longer, or even years if the deceased left significant debt, or if their heirs fight over the terms of their estate. Small estates from $10,000 to $50,000 average 17.4 months to settle because often there was no estate plan, and they died without a will and their estate must be settled through Illinois intestate laws.
During the probate process, your heirs may not have access to the assets in your estate and may have financial struggles. A trust takes effect as soon as you create it. Depending on your wishes, your beneficiaries can receive your assets immediately, in the future, or after your death.
The average cost to settled an estate in Illinois through probate court is $12,500. A very small estate with no challenges and a competent executor may be settled for $4,000.00 to $6,000.00. If the will is contested, or there is significant debt or other disputes, the cost to settle an estate can be significantly higher and includes court fees, executor fees, attorney fees and other costs.
The cost to settle an estate is on average 4% to 7% of the estate value, but can be much higher.
The nationwide average amount of time that the estate executor spends settling an estate is 570 hours.
It’s estimated that Americans pay up to $2 billion a year for probate – most of which can be avoided by careful estate planning.
Approximately 55 percent of adult Americans do not have an estate plan or will in place. 68% of black adults and 74% of Hispanic adults do not have a will.
Whether you have a small or a large estate to leave your loved ones, the probate process of transferring your assets to your heirs can be costly and time-consuming. There are many ways an experienced estate planning attorney can help you avoid probate in Illinois.
If you want your estate to avoid Illinois probate 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.