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What is Probate?

Get the Facts Straight About Probate

The word “probate” often makes people nervous or worried about an extended legal battle. We have all heard stories from family and friends about property being “tied up” in probate. We have often been encouraged to avoid probate by attorneys and financial planners. However, the probate proceeding is simply a public process designed to ensure that a deceased person’s property is distributed according to his or her will. Or, if there is no will, then the probate court oversees the distribution of assets to the heirs of the deceased person as set forth by Illinois law.

Most simply, probate is the court process of appointing a personal representative to handle someone’s affairs after he or she dies.

Understanding the Court Process for Probate

First, the will, if any, is approved by the court and admitted into the public record as valid. Next, a personal representative is appointed. If there is a will, the person appointed is called the “executor.” If there is no will, the person appointed is called the “administrator.”

The administrator or executor then gathers the assets of the deceased. These assets may include real estate, a vehicle, bank accounts, and even intellectual property. The administrator or executor must then notify the deceased person’s creditors and pay all debts, expenses, and taxes from the estate. Finally, all assets are distributed to the legatees if under a will or to the deceased’s heirs-at-law, as defined by Illinois statute, if there is no will.

In Illinois, all estates which include real property or consist of assets exceeding $100,000 in value typically need to be probated.  Probate of a decedent’s estate in Illinois takes at least six months because the law gives creditors that period of time to file their claims against the estate of a decedent.

Chicago Probate Attorneys You Can Trust

The experienced attorneys at Hays Firm can guide you through the probate process by preparing and filing documents, representing you at all court appearances, assisting in the sale of real estate owned by the estate, and appearing before the court to open and close the probate case. Please do not hesitate to contact the probate attorneys at Hays Firm LLC in Chicago if you have any questions.