Chicago Probate Attorney
Probate in Illinois is a legal process by which the estate of a deceased person is divided among the legal recipients. Having a will alone does not mean that probate can be avoided, only a will combined with a trust can do this. Probate must be conducted for all deceased people who have assets over $100,000 or who have real estate and either pass away without a will or with a will but no trust. The probate process is governed by the Illinois Probate Act and requires a minimum of 14 months in court. Our Chicago Probate Attorneys are well versed in the Illinois Probate Act and can help guide you through this difficult and technical process.
Probate Process in Illinois
All probate cases start by identifying the person who will be responsible for the case. If the person passed away with a will this is usually the person named as the executor in the will. If the person died without a will (this is what we call intestate) then it is usually a family member or close friend. Our Chicago Probate Attorneys will help this person file the Petition for Administration which can also be called the Probate Petition. Once the probate case is filed a probate estate is created. Early on in the probate case the court will issue Letters of Administration to a person involved in the case. This is usually the petitioner but can be someone else. The Letters of Administration serve to appoint the Administrator as well as give the Administrator the power to conduct business on behalf of the probate estate. If there is a will then the Administrator must follow the terms of the will, if the person died intestate then the Administrator must use the Illinois Intestate Rules of Succession. After all property has been distributed to the appropriate heirs, legatees, and creditors the probate case can be closed and considered fully administered.
Contested Probate Estates
Unfortunately, not all probate cases are as straightforward as they should be. Probate administration can be challenged if an heir or legatee or creditor think that the default distribution rules should not apply. Also, any party to a probate case can request that the case be supervised which requires a neutral third party to be appointed by the court. This third party steps into the role of Administrator and is responsible for a fair distribution of the estate. This is most commonly seen when there are family disputes and a lack of trust in the originally suggested or appointed Administrator. Additionally, this can be seen if the executor named in the will is not trusted by some of the heirs. A probate case is also the proper venue to contest a will if you believe there are problems. Not all estate lawyers in Illinois litigate disputed estates. Fortunately, our Chicago Probate Attorneys are also well versed in litigating contested probate cases.