Estate Law, Probate: Is it Necessary?
When a person passes, his or her loved ones are left to distribute the person’s assets and pay any outstanding debts. Paying the bills and distributing the property may require the opening of a probate estate in court. However, probate is not always necessary. For example, if the person who passed owned less than $100,000 in assets that are considered “probate assets”, then probate is likely not necessary. An attorney at Hays Firm would be happy to determine whether probate is necessary.
Estate Law: Probate Process
The probate process begins by filing a will. If the person who passed executed a will, that will must be filed with the county clerk’s office within 30 days. After the will is filed, the person named executor in the will files a petition with the county court to open a probate estate.
If the person did not leave a will, then the family and friends of the deceased person must determine who will be the “administrator” of the estate. Like an executor, the administrator is responsible for paying the bills of the estate and distributing the assets. The administrator will then file a petition with the county court to open a probate estate.
Along with filing the petition to open a probate estate, the administrator or the executor will also need to file a document titled “Affidavit of Heirship.” An affidavit of heirship sets forth the deceased person’s family and identifies the heirs of the estate. If there is a will, these heirs may not inherit any property. However, the heirs must still be identified, even if the deceased person did not name the heir in his or her will.
Once the estate is opened, the administrator or the executor receive a document titled “Letters of Office.” These letters are used to act on behalf of the estate. The letters should be presented to banks and title companies. The administrator or executor should open a bank account and then begin paying any debts of the estate, such as utility bills affiliated with real property.
Typically, an estate in Cook County may be opened and closed within 14 months. It may only be necessary to attend court twice: once to open the estate and once to close. Closing the estate entails only filing a final report and presenting receipts to the court. Unfortunately, not all families are “typical” and a conflict may arise necessitating further court involvement. Please visit our webpage about litigation, if you are concerned a conflict may arise in your family during the probate process.
Probate Services Provided by Hays Firm
- Review Wills and Trusts
- Determine whether probate is necessary
- File a will if necessary
- Draft Petitions for Letters of Administration
- Draft all documents and pleadings relating to opening and closing a probate estate
- Provide advice and consultation to executors and administrators
Hays Firm LLC routinely helps clients resolve these types of disputes prior to litigation. We work with our clients to evaluate the conflict and determine whether the disputes can be resolved through mediation. However, when litigation is necessary, we prosecute our clients’ claims in the appropriate court.
It is important to note laws vary by state, therefore finding a probate lawyer in Chicago, like Hays Firm LLC, is beneficial to those living locally or with families holding estates and trusts in Illinois.
You may contact our estate and probate attorneys by calling (312) 626-2537 or via e-mail.