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What is Probate and How Can I Avoid it?

What is Probate?

In the State of Illinois, Probate is a legal Court proceeding for the estate of a deceased person.  The Probate Judge will do many things, including:

  • appoint an Administrator/Executor of the estate;

  • determine whether Court supervision is required;

  • require and approve certain Court documents;

  • ensure that the decedent’s assets (e.g. real estate, money and personal property) are collected and distributed as required by either the Will or State Law;

  • ensure that all the estate’s expenses and debts are accounted for;

  • ensure that estate creditors are given notice and time to file a claim;

  • ensure that all applicable taxes are filed and paid;

  • ensure that the remaining assets are given to those persons entitled to them.

For more information, read the Illinois State Bar Association’s pamphlet, “Probate ensures orderly distribution of assets after one’s death.”

Why Avoid Probate?

It is wise to avoid probate.  The common complaints about probate include:

  • There is a loss of privacy (the Will can be viewed by anyone who searches public record and the court proceedings are not private);

  • It is usually lengthy and time consuming;

  • There are numerous requirements to follow (a lot of “red tape”);

  • It can be very costly;

  • It can take a long time for a beneficiary to receive their inheritance.

How can I Avoid Probate?

Many people mistakenly believe that creating a valid Will in Illinois means that their loved ones will avoid probate upon their death.  In general, creating a Will does not allow your estate to avoid probate at your death.  We recommend that you call the Illinois Estate Planning Attorneys at The Law Offices of Hoy & Sahlas, Ltd.

For more information, read the Illinois State Bar Association’s pamphlet, “’Living Trust’ Can be Passed on to Your Beneficiaries Without Probate.”

How do I know if my estate must go to probate in Illinois?

The answer depends on many factors, for example, where you resided, the location of your assets, the total value of your assets, whether those assets were owned in your name alone and whether those assets had beneficiary designations.  We recommend that you make an appointment for with the Illinois Estate Planning Attorneys at The Law Offices of Hoy & Sahlas, Ltd.  The Illinois Estate Planning Lawyers at The Law Offices of Hoy & Sahlas, Ltd. can assess your situation, provide you with legal advice and assist you in the legal process.

How long will Probate take?

There is no standard time frame for how long probate will last.  The court decides when probate is completed.  The court will not allow any estate to be closed until the all requirements under Illinois State and County Law are fulfilled.

How Much will Probate Cost?

There is no standard amount for how much probate will cost.  It depends on many factors, some of which are: the amount and type of assets; whether the assets can be liquidated or sold and how long it will take; what the Will requires; potential creditor claims, potential objections or demands made to the Court by beneficiaries or other interested persons, etc.


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