Most people do not know a lot about probate until a loved one dies, and the ones that do know about it think that it is a long and frustrating process. While the probate process can indeed be lengthy, it does not have to be frustrating or complicated.
What Is the Probate Process?
Probate is the legal process that a deceased person’s estate goes through to be properly distributed to heirs and designated beneficiaries. Typically, a person’s property is distributed according to the deceased person’s last will and testament, but if there is no will, property is distributed according to state law. During the probate process, the following steps are taken:
1. File the Will in Probate Court and Notify Beneficiaries
The probate process begins when a petition is filed in the local probate court to place the will into probate and appoint an executor of the estate. If the deceased person did not have a will, the petition will ask the court to appoint a person as an administrator for the estate. The notice of the hearing must be given to all beneficiaries, which allows them to contest the will in court if they object to the terms of the will. The notice should also be published in a newspaper in the county in which the petition was filed.
2. Give Notice to Creditors
Once the executor is appointed, they must notify all creditors of the estate. This allows any creditor who wants to make a claim against the assets of the estate to do so. In Illinois, the notice must contain the name and address of the executor and the attorney to the estate. A creditor who wants to make a claim must do so on or before the date stated in the notice.
3. Take Inventory of Assets
Next, the executor must compile a complete inventory of the assets of the estate. These can include:
- Real estate property
- Bank accounts
- Vehicles and boats
- Business interests
- Other assets
In Illinois, the court may appoint up to three disinterested appraisers to value the assets of the estate.
4. Pay Expenses From the Estate
Before assets can be distributed to the estate’s beneficiaries, all expenses related to the probate process must be paid from the assets of the estate. Expenses are classified by the Illinois Probate Act, and they may include:
- Funeral and burial expenses;
- The surviving spouse’s or child’s award;
- Debts due to the United States;
- Money due to employees of the deceased;
- Debts due to Illinois and any city, township, or county in the state; and
- Miscellaneous claims.
5. Distribute Assets to Beneficiaries
After all expenses have been paid and all claims against the estate have been settled, assets can be distributed to the beneficiaries of the estate. The executor will then petition the court for permission to transfer the estate’s remaining assets to the beneficiaries in accordance with the will, or if the deceased person did not have a will, in accordance with state law. After the petition has been granted, the executor will create new deeds for property, transfer stocks or other funds, liquidate any assets as necessary, and tie up other loose ends.
Contact a Tinley Park Probate Attorney
The probate process can be daunting, but it does not have to be. A properly drafted will that covers all of your bases can help expedite the probate process when the time comes. An Orland Park estate planning lawyer can help you draft a valid and legally sound will that can ensure a smooth probate process after you are gone. Contact Anderson & Associates, P.C. to begin planning for your family’s future. Call 708-226-9904 to schedule a free consultation.