What Is Probate Administration and Why Is It Necessary?
Probate administration is the process of proving to a probate court that a will is valid. If a person dies and leaves a will, then probate is required to ensure that all assets are distributed as the decedent intended. If someone dies without leaving behind a will, then probate is necessary for gathering all of their assets, paying off any debts and taxes, and distributing what’s left to inheritors. It may also be necessary if a will names a beneficiary for a certain account, but the beneficiary passed away before the owner of the account amended the will.
How the Process Works
The first step of the probate process is to file a petition with the probate court to either admit the will to probate or, if there is no will, to appoint an administrator of the estate. Heirs, beneficiaries, and creditors will be notified of the beginning of the proceeding. Next, there will be an inventory of all the decedent’s real property, investments, business interests, and any other assets. An independent appraiser may be brought in to appraise non-cash assets. Any creditor who wishes to make a claim on assets will have a timeframe in which to do so. After all the assets are inventoried, any estate and funeral expenses, debts, and taxes will be paid from the estate. In some cases, non-cash assets may be sold to satisfy the decedent’s financial obligations. Finally, the remaining assets will be transferred according to the will, or if there is no will, then under Illinois’s intestacy succession laws.
How to Avoid Probate
Though it may sound intimidating, the truth is that probate administration is a fairly routine process that is streamlined and inexpensive. Even so, some wish to avoid probate altogether. This can help to protect the privacy of the deceased, reduce legal fees, and possibly avoid the estate tax, which can take a considerable chunk from a very wealthy estate. Creating a revocable living trust is the most popular way to avoid probate. Assets are placed in the trust but are available to the trust creator during their lifetime. At the time of their death, all assets in the trust are passed to the trust beneficiaries.
Contact Our Office Today!
There’s a lot of confusion and misinformation surrounding wills, trusts, and probate administration. At Levo-Donohoo LLC, we help you wade through the jargon and weigh your options, ensuring that your assets are distributed according to your wishes and that the process goes as smoothly as possible.