What is Probate
Probate is the legal process by which a court determines who receives the property and other assets of a deceased person (decedent) in a probate estate, with the help of the estates executor (in cases where there is a Will) or an administrator (in cases where there is no Will).
The Probate Process
When the decedent dies having left a Will, Illinois Law requires that he original Will be filed with the Clerk of the Court in the county where the decedent last resided. If decedent dies without a Will, the estate becomes an intestate estate and the Illinois law of intestate succession will govern the disposition of decedent’s intestate estate.
In cases where a will exists, the decedent’s named executor will typically file a petition with the court to open a probate estate. Next, the probate court will admit the Will into probate, declare the named executor in decedent’s Will as the personal representative of decedent’s estate, and issue a “Letters of Office” to the executor giving him the authority to act on behalf of the probate estate. Thereafter, the executor will send notices to the heirs and legatees that the probate estate has been opened.
In an intestate estate, a person interested in opening decedent’s probate estate will typically file a petition with the court to open a probate estate AND would need to provide notice to decedent’s other heirs BEFORE the initial hearing of the petition to open probate estate. Next, barring any contest or objection from the other heirs, the probate court shall declare the interested person as the estate administrator and personal representative of decedent’s intestate estate. The probate court will also issue a “Letters of Office” to the administrator giving him the authority to act on behalf of the probate estate.
Duties of Executor/Administrator
The estate representative is tasked with the following duties and responsibilities:
- Send out notices to heirs and legatees;
- Provide notice of opening of probate estate through newspaper publication to allow decedent’s creditors, if any to make their claims against the probate estate;
- Notify any of decedent’s creditors who are “known or who may be reasonably ascertained” of the opening of the probate estate;
- Identify, gather and prepare an inventory of the probate estate if required by decedent’s Will or by the probate court;
- Preserve the assets of the probate estate;
- Keep a record of all expenses and transactions involving the estate, including filing fees, legal fees, accountant’s fees, etc.
- Prepare an accounting of the expenses and transactions involving the estate if required by decedent’s Will or by the probate court;
- Pay the probate estate’s debts and taxes;
- Distribute the probate estate’s remaining assets as directed by decedent’s Will or by Illinois intestacy statute; and
- Close the probate estate.
SERVICES FOR EXECUTORS/ADMINISTRATORS
At Noorani & Villar, we provide a range of probate services for executors/administrators from the filing of decedent’s Will with the Clerk of the Court through closing the probate estate, including the preparing and filing of probate pleadings, serving the required notices upon heirs and legatees, preparing of newspaper publications for notices to unknown heirs and creditors, handling and resolving creditor’s claims, appearing in court, preparing and filing of inventories and accountings, and arranging final distribution of the probate estate’s remaining assets.
Please contact Noorani & Villar, P.C., where our attorneys will assist you in your Probate requirements.