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When someone dies without a will, or when heirs wish to determine the validity of a will, the decedent’s estate goes through a process known as probate. Probate can be a long and daunting process, and it may even be the source of stress when there are arguments about the estate, but understanding how it works can go a long way in helping you through the process.

Executor or Estate Administrator

During the probate process, an estate executor or administrator manages both the deceased’s assets and debts. If there is a will, this person is usually already named in the will. In the absence of a will, the court will appoint an executor (generally the closest family member). Named executors can decline their duties if they are unwilling or unable to fulfill them.

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Posted on in Probate

Illinois probate lawyersProbate is a court-supervised procedure in which the court determines who is supposed to inherit the assets of a deceased person. Though not always necessary, it is sometimes required. The following sections can help you learn more about the probate process in Illinois, including when it may be needed and how a seasoned attorney can help improve the outcome for entitled heirs.

When is Probate Necessary? 

Illinois’ probate laws are not dependent upon whether there was a valid will at the time of a person’s death. Instead, they focus on the assets that the individual owned and how they were titled. For example, assets that are found to be joint- or entirety-owned may be distributed without probate. Assets held in trust, assets assigned to a designated beneficiary (i.e. retirement accounts), and real estate assets with a transfer-on-death deed may be distributed without a will or probate as well. In contrast, an estate may be required to go through probate if:

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Posted on in Probate

Everyone knows that they must get a will before it is too late. Those who know better know that a will alone is simply not enough.  It is true that having a proper will is an important tool in preparing for death, but it is only one in a set of tools that an estate-planning attorney has.

The estate-planning attorney uses these tools to achieve their clients' objectives. This is especially important for larger estates that may have several overarching interests.

One goal may be privacy. If a will goes through probate pursuant to the Illinois Probate Act, it will be a public document, allowing anyone to have access to it. This could create conflict in cases when a family member was left out of the will or gets a smaller portion of the estate.

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