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.
Personal liability can arise in a probate situation if the executor makes an error in marshaling assets, generating reports, paying creditors and heirs in the wrong order or the wrong amounts, failing to obtain court authority before taking certain actions, or failing to give notice to the proper individuals in the proper manner.
The process can be extended by as much as several years if the executor does not prepare each form correctly the first time and give proper notice to all necessary parties, obtain the necessary signatures of heirs and interested creditors, and file the appropriate documents before each deadline passes.
Even if you hire an attorney, much of your valuable time will be dedicated to gathering and liquidating the estate’s assets, keeping records, paying bills, and making lists of creditors. Having to learn the law and local court procedure and generate inventories, accounting, and reports in a form that will be accepted by the court may make an already difficult task insurmountable.
Potential for expensive and time consuming probate litigation is significantly diminished if the probate estate in question is handled effectively, quickly, and efficiently by a professional.
The net effect of speeding up the probate process, reducing the amount of time that the executor must personally dedicate to the case, and heading off any disputes in a professional manner is to minimize the amount of stress that the family of the deceased must deal with at a time when emotions are already high.