In this article, we’ll provide a brief review of the Illinois probate process and a detailed list of the deadlines associated with that process. There are several important deadlines that executors, beneficiaries and other interested parties should be aware of to ensure their legal rights are preserved.
The Illinois probate process is a court-supervised, legal procedure that certifies a deceased individual’s estate worth over a certain amount of money. The formal probate system gives interested parties a chance to voice their concerns, disperse assets, and pay debts and taxes. Probate is handled by the deceased person’s Executor, who is responsible for verifying the deceased person’s will, identifying the deceased person’s assets, appraising those assets, paying debts and taxes, and distributing the remaining property as the deceased person’s will directs.
A typical probate takes about a year, but if relatives and other inheritors contest the will or debate over assets, the process can take much longer and become increasingly expensive. It’s important to meet with a probate attorney as soon after the death as possible, as the probate process can be confusing and complex. Once an attorney is involved, it’s critical to identify any perishable property, or property that needs to be immediately preserved or addressed. This includes things like stocks, agricultural products, livestock, business contracts, real estate, and controlled climate collections, such as art, wine, and furs.
To learn more, check out our article: The Illinois Probate Process Explained.
Here are the deadlines commonly associated with the Illinois probate process.
If the named Executor has absolutely no intention to act as an Executor of the estate, he or she has 30 days to inform the appropriate court.
Letters of Administration are granted by an Illinois probate court to determine the person who will administer the estate of someone who dies without a will. When property passes under Intestacy Rules, or when there are no named Executors of an estate, the deceased individual’s surviving spouse has priority in receiving a Letter of Administration over others, including children. To file or “apply” to become the Executor of an estate, a petition must be filed with the court in the proper county and state.
At least 30 days prior to the hearing for the Petition for Letters of Administration, the petitioner must mail a copy of the petition to each person who is entitled to administer or nominate at the same or greater priority level than the petitioner. The mailed petition has to be stamped with the time and place of the scheduled hearing in order to provide any person in the same or higher priority class as the petitioner to challenge the petition.
Deadline to provide notice of the granting of Letters of Administration: 14 days after appointment of executor
Once the petitioner’s request to serve as executor is granted, the petitioner has 14 days after the administrator was appointed to mail a copy of the Petition for Letters of Administration to each of the decedent’s heirs that was not entitled to the notice of the hearing, unless a notice was previously excused by a signed Waiver of Notice. The administrator also has to file proof of mailing this notice and proof of publication (if required) with the clerk of court.
If the decedent had a will, it has to be filed with the clerk of court in the county where the decedent resided at the time of death within 30 days of the death. In many cases, the will is found after the deadline, but hiding or destroying a will is a crime. If you miss the deadline to file a will, talk to your attorney and file the will expediently. The court may deny you the right to serve as Executor, unless good cause is shown.
Any interested person can demand a formal proof of will. In order to do so, a person must file a petition for formal proof of will within 42 days of the order admitting the will to probate. Once the petition is filed, the court will schedule a hearing, at which the proponent of the will must prove that the will is valid. After the hearing, the court will confirm the order admitting the will to probate, so long that there is no proof of fraud, forgery, compulsion, or other improper conduct. If the will is determined invalid, the order admitting the will to probate will be vacated.
Executors of an estate have 60 days to catalogue and account for all assets of an estate once they are appointed to the position of executor.
Although will contests are rare, they do happen. If a person wants to contest a will, he or she has six months from the date the will is admitted to the probate to file a petition to contest the will. This is typically a very strict deadline.
Deadline for surviving spouse to elect to renounce the Will and instead take the statutory share: 7 months from the date the will is admitted to probate
If the estate remains open after 14 months, the court will expect the representative to account or report to the court to explain why the estate needs to remain open.