Thursday, August 15, 2013

Probate and Estate Administration - FAQs

What is probate? A court procedure by which a will is proved to be valid or invalid. The term is now understood more broadly to include all matters that entail the administration of estates, guardianships, etc.

What are the advantages of having a will? There are least two advantages to having a will. One, you can give your property away as you want to; if you die without a will, a statute that is part of the Probate Act dictates how the property will be given away. Two, the cost of the premium of a surety bond can be avoided by stating in the will that the executor need not provide security for his/her bond.

What is an executor? A person named in a will to carry out the directions and requests set out in the will. When there is no will, the person who performs this work is called an administrator. The tasks are essentially the same: Open the estate, publish notice, collect the assets, pay the debts, distribute what's left (if anything) to the beneficiaries or the heirs, and close the estate.

Can probate be avoided? Yes, if the estate is small enough (gross value not more than $100,000.00) and some other requirements are met, then in lieu of probate, a so-called small estate affidavit can be prepared and submitted to those who have property of the decedent, and the bills can be paid and the remainder distributed without going through probate. Details about the affidavit appear at 755 ILCS 5/25-1.

What can I do if I am an heir and believe my interests are not being protected? You can ask the court for "supervised" administration of the estate, which would then require the executor or the administrator to seek and obtain the court's permission before taking any action of consequence.
Probate Resources

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