Illinois Lawyer Referrals and Legal Guidance
Illinois Probate Overview
Findgreatlawyers.com is a free service, run by Illinois lawyers. We help people who need legal advice or lawyer referrals almost anywhere in Illinois. You can complete our contact us form or call us at (800) 517-1614 and we will try to provide you with guidance. We help with almost every legal matter including people who need help regarding processing a will of a recently deceased friend or loved one or helping out when there is no will at all. We also help on matters such as contested estates or inheritance disputes. Although we are based out of Chicago, we have a state-wide network of attorneys for almost every county in Illinois. For general information on probating a will in Illinois please read on.
Upon the death of an individual in Illinois, his or her property (the "estate") must be collected and distributed either by will, or in the absence of a will, by a process called intestacy.
If the deceased person created a will during their lifetime, the final will must be filed within 30 days of the deceased person’s death regardless of the value of the estate. The will must be filed in the county courthouse in the county in which the deceased person last resided. Additionally, if the deceased person owned real estate outside of Illinois, an additional filing must be made in each state where such property was owned (usually referred to as an "ancillary probate estate").
All wills must be filed regardless of whether of the value of the estate assets. Simply filing a will does not require any further action by the person filing at the county courthouse. However, if the estate has personal assets (other than real property) above $100,000.00, the will must generally go through a process known as probate.
The probate process involves the court-supervised collection and distribution of the assets of a recently deceased person. Generally, in Illinois a will must be probated if the deceased person’s assets are valued at over $100,000.00. If the assets are valued at less than $100,000.00 the probate process (and thus required court-supervision) usually may be avoided by the filing of a "small estate affidavit."
At the time a will is submitted for admission to probate, an individual must be appointed to carry out the collection and distribution of assets and to satisfy any outstanding debts and creditor claims. In cases where the deceased person died with a valid will, this person is called an "executor." The executor is typically designated in the will itself. However, if the will does not name anyone as executor, or in the event that the named individual is unable or unwilling to serve, a person may petition the court to be appointed as executor. The court issues "letters of office" officially appointing an executor once the appropriate individual is determined.
Once appointed, the executor typically hires an attorney to assist them with the accompanying responsibilities. The executor’s duties typically include resolving claims against the estate, collecting and protecting estate assets, and carrying out the provisions of the Will. An effective attorney can help an executor unfamiliar with the probate process navigate the system and avoid incurring excess costs reducing the value of the deceased person’s estate.
The entire probate process may take anywhere from six months to several years depending on the size and complexity of the deceased person’s estate. Once a will enters probate, it stays open for at least 6 months to allow creditors and other interested parties to file claims against the estate assets.
Findgreatlawyers.com is a free service, run by Illinois lawyers, to help people with any Illinois legal matter. If you are looking for a lawyer or general information, please complete our contact us form or call us at (800) 517-1614 and one of our attorneys will try to guide you.
Since 2001 findgreatlawyers.com has been a trusted resource for tens of thousands of people who have Illinois legal matters. Find out why consumers say that having access to findgreatlawyers.com is like having a lawyer in the family.