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Probate

Probate & Estate Administration

How is Probate Started in Illinois?

How is Probate Started in Illinois?

In this article, we explain how probate is started in Illinois, including filing a will with the county clerk, filing a petition to open a probate estate, and the additional documents that must accompany the probate petition in Illinois.

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Payment of Executors in Illinois Probate Explained

Payment of Executors in Illinois Probate Explained

In this article we will explain payment of executors and administrators in Illinois probate cases.  The executor or administrator of an Illinois probate case are known as the personal representative of the estate.  

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When to Hire A Probate Attorney in Illinois | Who Is Responsible for Probate Attorney Fees

When to Hire A Probate Attorney in Illinois | Who Is Responsible for Probate Attorney Fees

In this article we explain when you should hire a probate attorney in Illinois, including: “should I hire an attorney for a small estate when probate is not necessary?”,  “is an attorney required for Illinois probate estates?”, “when should an executor hire a probate attorney?”, and “who is responsible for probate attorney fees in Illinois?”

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Illinois Probate: Does All Property Need to go Through Probate?

Illinois Probate: Does All Property Need to go Through Probate?

The question of whether or not all property is subject to probate is often asked once someone has passed away. In this article, we explain what probate is, when probate is required in Illinois, what it means for an asset to be subject to probate, and what types of property do not need to go through probate in Illinois when their owner passes away.

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Who Selects the Executor for Probate Estates in Illinois? | How is an Estate Administrator Determined in Illinois?

Who Selects the Executor for Probate Estates in Illinois? | How is an Estate Administrator Determined in Illinois?

In this article, we will explain how the role of executor or estate administrator is determined in Illinois probate estates.  For some foundational information, check out our previous articles: What is Probate?: An Introduction to Probate in Illinois and What Are the Responsibilities of an Executor in Illinois Probate?

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What are an Executor's Responsibilities?

What are an Executor's Responsibilities?

In this article we explain the responsibilities of an executor in Illinois probate cases.  Probate is the process that must take place for certain property to be legally distributed to the heirs of an estate, per a deceased person’s will. This process is administered by the executor of the estate and the courts.

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How Does Illinois Probate Work?

How Does Illinois Probate Work?

In this article, we explain how probate works in Illinois and the necessary steps taken throughout the proceeding. This includes how probate is started in Illinois; how assets, debts and taxes are handled in an Illinois probate estate; and the closing of an Illinois probate estate.

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What is Probate?: Introduction to Probate in Illinois

What is Probate?: Introduction to Probate in Illinois

In this article we will be giving an introduction to Illinois probate, including: What is Probate?, Probate Basics, and Alternatives to Probate in Illinois. Although it is not a required process for every estate, probate is frequently the way that estates are legally divided after a death.

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Types of Taxes to be Filed When Someone Dies

Types of Taxes to be Filed When Someone Dies

If you are the executor or administrator of an estate, there are several different tax forms that you may be required to file on behalf of the decedent (the person who passed away) and the decedent’s estate.  The purpose of this article is to explain the different types of federal and Illinois state taxes you may need to file when a loved one passes, and explain under what circumstances each is required. ​

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Top 5 Benefits of Hiring a Probate Attorney

Top 5 Benefits of Hiring a Probate Attorney

In cases in which probate is required, the executor of the estate or the next of kin cannot take the actions necessary to administer the estate without the authority granted by the probate court. 

‍If you are not sure whether probate is necessary, you can check out our article:  When is Probate Required in Illinois? 

Probate is a complicated process that requires executors to prepare forms, meet deadlines, keep records, generate reports, submit filings to the court, and serve notices to creditors, heirs and local newspapers.

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Illinois Probate FAQ

Illinois Probate FAQ

1.Must every estate go through probate?

​2.Do I need an Attorney to Probate a deceased relative’s estate?

3.What is a bond in probate?

4.What happens when a deceased relative owns Real Estate in multiple states?

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When Is Probate Necessary in Illinois?

When Is Probate Necessary in Illinois?

In this article, we will discuss when it is necessary in Illinois to open a probate matter to administer the estate of a decedent and when doing so can be avoided.

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The Illinois Probate Process Explained

The Illinois Probate Process Explained

The purpose of this article is to explain the probate process.  Probate is a court case wherein the probate court oversees the administration of an estate in order to ensure proper payment to heirs and creditors.  If probate is necessary, your attorney will follow these steps to administer the estate through the probate court.  The probate process is slightly different depending on whether the decedent had a will in place at the time of death.  If there is a will in place, the estate is called a Testate Estate.  If the decedent died without a will, the estate is called an Intestate Estate.  This article will deal with probate administration of a Testate Estate.  In a future article, I will address the differences between administering a Testate Estate and an Intestate Estate, so please stay tuned. 

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Independent Administration vs. Supervised Administration of Probate Estates

Independent Administration vs. Supervised Administration of Probate Estates

The purpose of this article is to explain the difference between supervised administration and independent administration for probate cases in Illinois. ​Probate cases can be handled in one of two ways: Supervised Administration and Independent Administration.  Supervised Administration requires the executor or administrator of the estate to seek court approval for most decisions that he or she makes.  Independent Administration, on the other hand allows the executor to potentially appear in court only twice: once at the opening of the probate estate, in order to be appointed executor; and a second time at the closing of the estate in order to file his or her final report with the court, close the case, and be discharged as executor.  

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What Happens When Minors Inherit Property?

What Happens When Minors Inherit Property?

When a minor inherits property in Illinois, how that property will be dealt with depends on whether the decedent (the person from whom the property is inherited) dies with a will, with a trust, or without either (intestate).  In this article, we will explain the results of the different potential scenarios.

1.  Decedent dies intestate (without a will or trust)

In the absence of a will or trust, the decedent’s estate will go through probate.  The probate court will appoint a guardian of the minor child’s estate.  This person will be responsible for managing the inherited assets of the minor until the minor reaches age 18, at which point the remaining assets will be paid out to the child.  The guardian of the estate will have the duty to preserve as much of the inheritance as possible for distribution to the child when the child reaches the age of majority.  He or she will be required to report periodically to the probate court until the assets are finally distributed and seek court approval for certain types of transfers.  The guardian of the estate may be a different individual than the guardian of the person (the individual with custody over the guardian).  However, in the absence of a will or trust naming a specific person as the guardian of the estate, the guardian of the person will often be named the guardian of the estate.  This is undesirable for divorcees who do not necessarily want their ex-spouse, who will likely be the custodial parent and guardian of the person,  to have control of their property.

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How To Administer An Estate in Illinois

How To Administer An Estate in Illinois

This article will give you a basic overview of what goes into the process of administering an estate.  Before taking any steps in administering the estate, you should consult with your attorney.

This article will not deal with the work that the attorney performs in handling the probate estate, but rather will focus on the role of the Executor or Trustee of the estate.  To learn more about how to prevent your own estate from going to probate, you can read this article: Estate Planning Goals: Probate Avoidance.

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Illinois Trust Administration: Selling Real Estate

Illinois Trust Administration: Selling Real Estate

If you are a trustee responsible for the administration of a trust after the passing of a loved one, you have a fiduciary duty to act in the best interest of the beneficiaries of the trust, within the limitations and instructions laid out by the trust document.  

If a trust is in place and estate planning has been done properly prior to the death of the grantor of the trust, it should not be necessary to open a probate estate.  However, if the beneficiaries disagree with the actions of the trustee, the beneficiaries may open a probate case and seek to make the trustee personally liable for mismanaged assets of the estate.  

Trustee responsibility is fairly cut and dry when dealing with liquid assets like a checking account.  However, the trustee's responsibility becomes more complicated when dealing with non-liquid assets like real estate.  

When real estate is present in an estate, the trustee must first decide whether to transfer the real estate to one of the beneficiaries.  This will usually result in a reduction of the share that the beneficiary is due from the remainder of the estate's assets or a payment from the beneficiary to the estate for the value of the home.  An alternative to an insider transfer is to sell the real estate on the open market and distribute the proceeds among the beneficiaries.  

Regardless of what is to become of the real estate, I recommend that the trustee seek written approval from all of the beneficiaries of the trust prior to the transaction.   In the absence of this written approval, one or more of the beneficiaries may later claim that the real estate was sold to a third party or transferred to one of the beneficiaries for less than market value.   The beneficiary could then open a probate case and seek to hold the trustee personally liable for breach of fiduciary duty.  

For example, if the market value of a home is $400,000.00 and the Trustee sells it for $300,000.00, whether to a third party or to an insider, the trustee may be personally liable for the $100,000.00 difference between market value and sale price.  However, if the trustee has received written agreement from the beneficiaries prior to the sale, the trustee will be able to rest easy knowing that she is protected from any future liability. 

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