Probate in Illinois: What It Is and How it Works

Whether you’ve heard the word probate for the first time recently or you’re going through the probate process yourself, you might be wondering what probate really means and how it works. It’s not exactly a term that’s discussed very often in everyday life! 

As specialists in the liquidation of personal and real estate property, we hope to use our experience to shed some light on the topic. Let’s take a brief overview of probate in Illinois.

What is probate?

Probate is a legal process people go through when a loved one passes away, granting relatives legal administration rights over the deceased’s assets and belongings.

When is probate required in Illinois?

Whether the deceased passed away with or without a will, probate is a necessary step.

However, estates only need to go through probate if they meet the following conditions:

  1. Total combined assets are greater than $100k,
  2. The deceased was the sole owner of the assets

This means that, if the deceased owned a home with a spouse or partner, their home usually doesn’t need to go through probate – the surviving spouse or partner automatically becomes the beneficiary. 

Other assets with contracts also pass directly to beneficiaries at the time of death, otherwise known as the rights of survivorship or transfer on death. Examples include 401(k)s, certain bank accounts, life insurance, and other retirement accounts. 

If you’re unsure whether you need to go through probate, always consult an attorney.

What is the probate process in Illinois?

In a nutshell, the probate process involves opening or petitioning for probate in the county courthouse where the deceased registered their assets. The court then approves a will and gives out the letters of office, a document that grants the appointed administrator or executor legal administration rights over the assets. 

After receiving the letters of offices, the beneficiary starts the liquidation process, which involves selling real estate and making donations. 

The beneficiary usually sells some of the assets so they can pay bills or creditors related to the estate, while the executor’s job is to close the accounts and (if applicable) split the estate evenly between the heirs. 

After settling all accounts, any assets or money left goes to the heirs or family. Finally, the attorney and executor close the probate case at the county courthouse. 

Most estates or families hire an attorney to help them through this process. Although not strictly necessary, an attorney ensures everything is legally sound – this is especially important if there are multiple assets and heirs, which makes the process more complicated.

How long is probate in Illinois?

Probate cases take a minimum of eight months, but most will take between a year and eighteen months. Some even stay open for 2-3 years, usually because of disagreements between heirs or family members.

If you’re an executor or administrator of an estate, it’s essential to ensure everyone remains on track and fully informed to make the process as smooth as possible. The more the attorney has to do, the more expensive the case becomes. 

It’s also important to make the process as quick as possible to minimize expenses – a few months could cost some estates thousands of dollars!

Bottom line

Probate can be as simple or as difficult as the people involved make it, so we always recommend getting a professional involved to streamline the process.

If you need some help liquidating a property, why not get in touch? We’re registered real estate agents based in the Chicagoland area, and we’re always on hand to help people make their lives easier.

Whether you’ve heard the word probate for the first time recently or you’re going through the probate process yourself, you might be wondering what probate really means and how it works. It’s not exactly a term that’s discussed very often in everyday life! 

As specialists in the liquidation of personal and real estate property, we hope to use our experience to shed some light on the topic. Let’s take a brief overview of probate in Illinois.

What is probate?

Probate is a legal process people go through when a loved one passes away, granting relatives legal administration rights over the deceased’s assets and belongings.

When is probate required in Illinois?

Whether the deceased passed away with or without a will, probate is a necessary step.

However, estates only need to go through probate if they meet the following conditions:

  1. Total combined assets are greater than $100k,
  2. The deceased was the sole owner of the assets

This means that, if the deceased owned a home with a spouse or partner, their home usually doesn’t need to go through probate – the surviving spouse or partner automatically becomes the beneficiary. 

Other assets with contracts also pass directly to beneficiaries at the time of death, otherwise known as the rights of survivorship or transfer on death. Examples include 401(k)s, certain bank accounts, life insurance, and other retirement accounts. 

If you’re unsure whether you need to go through probate, always consult an attorney.

What is the probate process in Illinois?

In a nutshell, the probate process involves opening or petitioning for probate in the county courthouse where the deceased registered their assets. The court then approves a will and gives out the letters of office, a document that grants the appointed administrator or executor legal administration rights over the assets. 

After receiving the letters of offices, the beneficiary starts the liquidation process, which involves selling real estate and making donations. 

The beneficiary usually sells some of the assets so they can pay bills or creditors related to the estate, while the executor’s job is to close the accounts and (if applicable) split the estate evenly between the heirs. 

After settling all accounts, any assets or money left goes to the heirs or family. Finally, the attorney and executor close the probate case at the county courthouse. 

Most estates or families hire an attorney to help them through this process. Although not strictly necessary, an attorney ensures everything is legally sound – this is especially important if there are multiple assets and heirs, which makes the process more complicated.

How long is probate in Illinois?

Probate cases take a minimum of eight months, but most will take between a year and eighteen months. Some even stay open for 2-3 years, usually because of disagreements between heirs or family members.

If you’re an executor or administrator of an estate, it’s essential to ensure everyone remains on track and fully informed to make the process as smooth as possible. The more the attorney has to do, the more expensive the case becomes. 

It’s also important to make the process as quick as possible to minimize expenses – a few months could cost some estates thousands of dollars!

Bottom line

Probate can be as simple or as difficult as the people involved make it, so we always recommend getting a professional involved to streamline the process.

If you need some help liquidating a property, why not get in touch? We’re registered real estate agents based in the Chicagoland area, and we’re always on hand to help people make their lives easier.

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