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Illinois Estate Accounting Explained

Article written by Illinois & Iowa Attorney Kevin O'Flaherty
Updated on
December 17, 2019

In this article, we explain Illinois estate accounting. Our Illinois probate attorneys answer:

  • What is Illinois probate?
  • What is an estate accounting?
  • Who completes an Illinois estate accounting?
  • What is included in an Illinois estate accounting?
  • Are estate accountings always required in Illinois?

What Is Illinois Probate?

The Illinois probate process is an often-complex court-supervised series of legal actions completed to dispose of property after someone passes away. The purpose of probate is to resolve any issues regarding who inherits the deceased person’s property and to make sure all debts, taxes, and other responsibilities are paid or resolved. In Illinois, probate cases are under the providence of the circuit court in the county where the decedent resided. In all Illinois probate cases, an estate accounting is required.

What Is an Estate Accounting?

An estate accounting is both a document and part of the overall probate process. An estate accounting goes through several versions before it is complete. An initial accounting is filed with the court after an executor prepares an inventory of an estate. After an estate’s debts are paid, the executor must prepare a final accounting that lists all remaining assets to be distributed to beneficiaries according to the will’s terms, or state law if no will is present. If an estate takes longer than one year to settle, Illinois courts require an annual accounting.

Who Completes an Illinois Estate Accounting?

Probate is controlled by the decedent’s appointed executor, who must prove in court that a valid will exists. If there is no will, an administrator of the estate will be appointed. The executor or administrator of the estate is also responsible for executing and filing estate accounting documents.

The probate process in Illinois typically follows these steps:

  1. Executor files will within the local court and opens a probate case
  2. Notice of the proceeding is sent to interested parties
  3. Notice is published in a local newspaper to give notice to any creditors
  4. Executor locates, identifies, appraises, and inventories the decedent’s tangible personal property and other assets. This establishes an initial estate accounting.
  5. Executor pays all debts and taxes and distributes any remaining property as the will provides. 
  6. Executor executes and files final estate accounting.

What Is Included in an Illinois Estate Accounting?

Illinois law requires an estate accounting to include all receipts and disbursements since the last accounting, if applicable. Not all estate accounting documents require the same amount of detail. This will depend if a probate case is independent or supervised.

Are Estate Accountings Always Required in Illinois?

For assets not subject to probate, a formal estate accounting may not be required. This includes beneficiary-designated accounts, like retirement accounts and life insurance policies. If the proper forms are completed and submitted, these assets will go directly to the named beneficiary. Bank accounts with a payable on death term established do not have to go through probate. Assets owned jointly with rights of survivorship often avoid the probate process as well, including real estate property and vehicles. But assets owned solely by the decedent typically go through probate and will become part of an estate accounting.

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Are Estate Accountings Always Required in Illinois?

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