A member of my family passed away. Do I need to probate their estate?

Once you get past the emotional shock of the loss of a loved one, practical considerations take over.  How do I wrap up my family member’s financial affairs and get their assets distributed to the survivors?  Answers to these questions are rarely easy and you should seek an attorney to assist you.

The first question to be answered is whether the deceased had an estate plan.  Winding things down will be much easier if the person had a will and/or trust set up.  If assets were transferred to the trust during the deceased’s lifetime, the successor trustee automatically takes over control and can distribute those assets to the named beneficiaries.

Assets held in joint tenancy or which have a designated beneficiary are not part of the decedent’s estate and automatically transfer per the direction given during the deceased’s lifetime.  If the total value of the assets not already designated for distribution is below $100,000.00, Illinois law allows for those assets to be liquidated and distributed via a Small Estate Affidavit and without the need for a Probate estate.

If the value of the estate’s assets exceed $100,000.00 and no lifetime plan was made for their distribution, a probate estate will be necessary.  This involves petitioning a court to appoint an executor or administrator who is given authority to gather, liquidate and distribute assets.  If the deceased person left a will, the assets will be distributed according to that document.  If no will was created, the heirs of the Estate will be determined based upon an affidavit of heirship and Illinois statute.

If you need assistance resolving a deceased person’s estate, feel free to contact us at (847) 599-9101.  We can guide you towards the correct process under the law and help you avoid any problems which could arise from creditor claims or disgruntled heirs.

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