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.
Supervised administration may be necessary in one of two situations: (1) if it is ordered by the court; or (2) if it is requested by an interested party. Supervised administration of an estate may be ordered by the court in order to protect the interest of minors or disabled individuals. In the absence of the judge deciding independently to order supervised administration, estates will typically be administered independently unless supervised administration is requested by an interested party, such as an heir or creditor.
If supervised administration is requested by an heir or creditor, whether it is granted will depend largely upon whether there is a will in place, and what the will directs. If there is a will that states that the estate shall be administered independently, then the party seeking supervised administration will have to show good cause before supervised administration will be ordered. If there is no will, or if the will is silent as to independent administration, then supervised administration will be ordered automatically upon request, without the necessity of the requesting party showing good cause.
In an independently administered estate, the executor is not required to file the accounting or inventory with the court, but instead need only provide these documents to interested parties. The executor can also sell assets, pay debts, and distribute real estate to heirs without court approval.
If the estate is subject to supervised administration, the executor is required to file the accounting and inventory with the court and must seek court approval before making any major decision, such as paying creditors and distributing or liquidating assets. Minor tasks, such as paying utility bills and mortgages may still be performed without court approval.
Supervised administration can be beneficial if there is a lack of trust between the executor and other interested parties. It allows interested parties to be assured that their interests will be protected by the court. However, there are major drawbacks to supervised administration: (1) it delays the executors actions and creates more work for the executor; and (2) it increases the amount of attorney time that must be expended in administering the estate, thus making the estate administration more costly and giving the heirs a smaller piece of the pie.
The best way to ensure that supervised administration is not required for your estate is to meet with an attorney to draft a will that explicitly directs that the estate be administered independently.