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Tips for Going Through the Probate Process in Illinois

 Posted on January 22, 2021 in Estate Planning Blog

IL estate planning lawyerEstate planning includes several different legal documents that outline a person’s future wishes through the creation of a will or a trust. Making decisions ahead of time can alleviate the uncertainty and potential disputes after someone passes away. Probate is the judicial process in which an individual’s will is proven in a court of law and accepted as a valid public document that is the true last testament of the deceased. In addition, it is also the process by which the estate is settled according to the laws in the state of residence of the deceased person at his or her time of death if he or she does not have a will (intestate).

Understanding the Executor’s Role

An Executor is named in a Last Will and Testament to oversee the probate of his or her estate. In many cases, this individual is named in the will, but any competent adult can volunteer to be the personal representative (PR) of the estate. The duties and responsibilities of the executor should be taken seriously. Here are a few tips for successfully completing them:

  • Consult an experienced estate planning attorney to ensure that you perform your duties and responsibilities correctly.
  • Identify the estate assets immediately after the death and determine if they are probate or non-probate assets.
  • Keep detailed records and documentation of everything you do as executor.
  • Obtain the assistance of a real estate professional to appraise and/or sell property or a certified public accountant (CPA) to prepare the estate gift and tax return.
  • Do not release any estate assets without your attorney’s approval because if you make an error, you could be personally liable.

It is important to note that the state of Illinois issues an estate tax in addition to the gift and estate taxes from the federal government.

Understanding the Beneficiary's Role

A beneficiary is sometimes referred to as an heir. Although similar, they actually have several differences. A person who is designated to receive a gift or benefit in the deceased individual’s will or trust is a beneficiary. An heir can legally inherit from the decedent according to the succession laws if the decedent dies intestate. Advice for the beneficiary or heir include:

  • Obtain professional legal counsel so you understand what gifts/assets you may inherit from the estate.
  • Do not challenge a will just because you are unhappy with its terms. Contesting a will involves proving the will submitted to probate is invalid.
  • Be patient; the probate process can take months at a minimum to complete.
  • Be sure you understand any tax consequences of your inheritance.

Contact a DuPage County Estate Planning Attorney

The probate process may seem intimidating, but it does not have to be with the help of an experienced and reputable Wheaton, IL estate planning lawyer. Whether you are the executor or beneficiary of a will, it is crucial that you have a professional guide you through the proceedings. The qualified legal team at Stock, Carlson & Duff LLC has over 40 years of legal experience, helping families throughout DuPage, Cook, and Kane Counties resolve all kinds of estate matters. Call us today at 630-665-2500 to set up a private consultation.



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