A Schaumburg IL Probate Attorney Can Help You Navigate the Challenges of the Probate Process
After the death of a loved one, you may feel overwhelmed by responsibilities. You may need to plan a funeral, tend to your family’s emotional needs, and transition to a new reality without your loved one. The last thing you probably want to deal with are complicated court proceedings and making an inventory of your deceased loved one’s assets and debts. At Donald L. Sadowski, PC, Business Attorney & Estate Planning Lawyer we can assist you with the difficult process of distributing a loved one’s estate and paying their debts and taxes. Contact us today to speak to a Schaumburg IL probate attorney and learn more about the Illinois probate process.
What Is Probate?
Probate is a legal, court-supervised process that wraps up someone’s affairs after they die. While every probate matter is different, it typically involves the following:
- Reviewing the person’s estate plan or will
- Appointing an executor or personal representative
- Filing paperwork with the probate court
- Proving that the person’s will or estate plan is valid
- Inventorying their assets and debts
- Contacting heirs and notifying of them of the death
- Notifying creditors of their death and paying these debts
- Obtaining a tax ID number for the estate and paying its taxes
- Distributing the person’s remaining property according to their will, estate plan, or Illinois inheritance laws
This process can quickly become complicated, especially if your loved one’s final wishes weren’t perfectly clear or they have a large estate. Sometimes, disagreements and will contests arise, which can result in prolonged litigation.
Rather than struggle with these issues on your own, work with an experienced probate attorney. At Donald L. Sadowski, P.C. we pride ourselves on our compassionate, detail-oriented, and practical approach to probate law. We give our clients space to grieve, but also maintain open communication at every step.
Is Probate Always Necessary in Illinois?
Not every estate requires the full probate process. Because Illinois law recognizes that probate can be complicated and expensive, it permits estates with less than $100,000 in personal assets avoid the formal probate process. Instead, these smaller estates can file a simpler affidavit. A Schaumburg probate attorney can help you determine whether your loved one’s estate qualifies for the streamlined small estate affidavit process.
Furthermore, not all property must go through probate, including:
- Property held in joint tenancy or tenancy by the entirety
- Assets which were held in a living or inter vivos trust
- Retirement accounts, payable-on-death bank accounts, and other assets with a beneficiary designation
- Real estate subject to a transfer-on-death instrument
We help our clients properly assess and inventory their loved ones’ property and assets, identifying which assets require probate and which do not. And because we value your time and money, we always review our clients’ eligibility for simpler probate processes.
At Donald L. Sadowski, P.C. we will help you understand your legal options and suggest practical next steps during this difficult time. And if you want to help your loved ones avoid probate, we can help you craft an estate plan that minimizes the need for court proceedings.
What Happens During the Formal Probate Process?
If There Is a Will
The first step in the probate process is always reviewing your loved one’s will and estate plan. Hopefully, these documents will name an executor or personal representative and provide guidance about your loved one’s final wishes. Because a will is a legal document, it’s in your best interest to have a Schaumburg IL probate attorney help you read and interpret it.
If There Is No Will
If your loved one did not leave a will, you’ll need to appoint an Administrator for their estate and apply Illinois’ inheritance laws.
Filing Documents With the Court
Once you have identified or named the estate’s personal representative, they will need to file a series of documents with the Circuit Court in the Illinois county in which the decedent lived. For example, if your loved one lived in Schaumburg before they passed away, you will file your documents with the Cook County Circuit Court’s Probate Division. You may also have to file a bond with the court.
Next, your probate attorney will issue a series of notices that advise potential heirs and creditors of your loved one’s death. At the same time, they will carefully inventory every single one of the deceased’s assets and debts. Importantly, the estate’s creditors only have six months to file a claim. If they miss this deadline, they may lose their right to payment.
Depending on your circumstances, the court will either supervise the entire probate process or allow independent administration, where the executor and the probate attorney can handle most tasks without court oversight. Unless you anticipate a contentious probate proceeding, we typically recommend independent administration to our clients.
Closing the Estate
Once the personal representative and the probate attorney have completed all the necessary steps and have had the final accounting approved, the court will close the estate. A final accounting outlines:
- The estate’s assets
- Any receipt or income the estate generated during the probate proceeding
- How much the estate paid out for its debts and administrative costs
- How much it distributed to beneficiaries and heirs
- How the personal representative intends to distribute any remaining assets
What If There Is a Dispute About a Will or Estate Plan?
While will contests, where someone disputes the validity of a will or estate plan, are relatively rare, they do happen. In these cases, it’s essential that you consult with an experienced probate attorney as soon as possible. You’ll need someone to carefully investigate the circumstances surrounding the will’s creation, review a variety of documents, and present your arguments to a judge.
Will contests and other probate disputes can quickly become contentious and permanently damage relationships between family members. At Donald L. Sadowski, P.C. we try to resolve these disagreements as quickly and fairly as possible. However, we also aren’t afraid to fully litigate our clients’ claims and demand justice.
If you have questions about the validity of a will or are concerned about a will contest, contact us today.
What Taxes Apply to an Illinois Estate?
While most estates need to pay income and property taxes, federal and Illinois estate taxes only apply to very large estates. If you have questions about an estate’s tax obligations, it’s best to consult with an experienced probate attorney.
Mr. Sadowski has written about federal estate and gift tax law for a nationally-recognized publisher of taxation materials and regularly advises businesses, families, and individuals about the tax implications of their estate and succession plans.
Request a Consultation With a Schaumburg IL Probate Attorney
If you have questions about the probate process, consult with an experienced probate attorney at Donald L. Sadowski, P.C. We have more than 25 years of experience advising and handling complex probate and estate planning matters. Contact us to request a confidential consultation today.