What is Probate?
Following the death of a loved one, probate is the court process for transferring your loved one’s assets to those designated in a will or by law. A will is a legal document that describes your intentions for your estate when you pass away. Without a will, a person dies “intestate”. In that case, the state divides and distributes property to the surviving family members based on their relationship to the deceased. Probate involves filing your loved one’s will (if one exists) and documentation of his or her assets. The Court will then transfer the property according to the terms of the will or according to Illinois law.
When is Probate Required?
Probate is not mandatory in all circumstances. For example, if your loved one created certain trusts before his or her death, or designated beneficiaries on certain financial accounts, probate may not be necessary. The value of your loved one’s estate also impacts whether probate is required. In general, estates valued at more than $100,000 (excluding assets that can be transferred through beneficiary designations) must undergo probate.
If you leave your estate to your loved ones using a will, everything you own will pass through probate. The process is expensive, time consuming and open to the public. The probate Court is in control of the process until the estate has been settled and distributed. If you are married and have children, you want to make certain your surviving family has immediate access to cash to pay for living expenses while the estate is being settled. It is not unusual for the probate Court to freeze assets for weeks or even months while trying to determine the proper distribution of assets.
What Does the Executor Do?
In its simplest terms, the executor is responsible for carrying out the wishes of the person who has passed away. As a practical matter, the executor acts as the representative of the deceased person’s estate in all legal matters with regard to wrapping up that person’s affairs.
As executor, you must file the will and other documents with the probate Court. You must also provide notice to the appropriate individuals and create a detailed inventory of the decedent’s assets. After any creditors are paid off (the estate must remain open a minimum of 6 months in order for creditors to make claims), you are responsible for distributing the remaining assets in accordance with the terms of the will or Court Order.
Depending on the circumstances, you may have to carry out other duties, including:
Filing tax returns on behalf of the decedent’s estate;
Obtaining valuations or appraisals;
Notifying third parties of the death.
Executors are fiduciaries, which means they are responsible for managing the property of another. Accordingly, they are held to high legal standards of care in performing these duties. Failures or lapses can potentially subject you to personal liability. It is important to consult with an attorney about the scope and nature of your duties. We and walk you through the process and guide you each step of the way. At Boznos Law, we can walk you through the process and safely guide you each step of the way.
How Long Does Probate Take?
Generally speaking, probate can last from 6 months up to a year and a half. At Boznos Law, we emphasize cost effective strategies. As a result, we are often able to reduce any delays and complete the process in a shorter time frame.
Learn More About Probate: Contact Us
Probate is a complex process. Boznos Law is well versed in probate administration, estate planning and related areas of law. We remain on top of developments in the field to provide you thorough, up to date legal counsel. Call Bill Boznos today at (630) 375-1958 or contact us at www.boznoslawoffice.com/contact-us through our website at www.boznoslawoffice.com
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