Even in situations where a deceased person leaves a clear and uncontested will, probate can be a complex process involving many steps. In fact, even many attorneys have a limited concept of how to correctly handle probate proceedings because this area of law falls outside the range of most legal practices. Probate is an official process intended to ensure that taxes and debts are paid, and those remaining assets are distributed in accordance with the law. A tested probate lawyer who understands these procedures could explain the process, lay the groundwork for a smooth transition, and help guide the interested parties.
In this video, we’re going to answer a common question as to whether you need an attorney to complete the probate process.
Now an estate is just a fancy legal term that encompasses all the possessions that are solely in the name of the deceased person. If you are in a situation where you have to go to Probate Court, then you may require the assistance of an attorney.
While you may make an initial deposit for the attorney services, that deposit is generally going to be reimbursed to you from the remaining assets when the estate is officially closed.
Now in Illinois, an estate is its own, separate legal entity and the courts have consistently held that only a licensed attorney can represent an estate in court. We’ve been in court on numerous occasions where a person will attempt to open an estate on their own without an attorney and the judges have refused to do so.
There are other reasons why you would want to retain the services of an experienced probate lawyer.
For instance, there are certain technical requirements that have to be followed. When they are not followed, the Probate Court can delay the closing of the estate for months.
This will result in the surviving family members not having any access to the assets during that period.
Importantly, a personal representative can also be personally liable for actions which damage a creditor or damage someone who would have been a beneficiary of the estate. So this applies even when you use a small estate affidavit. Watch our next video where we explain more about the small estate affidavit.
Because of the personal liability, I always think it’s a good idea to consult with an attorney before taking major steps in relation to your loved one’s property or any part of the administrative issues of the estate.
If you’re interested in meeting us for a consultation, contact us at 630-864-5835.