What is Probate?
Your objective should be to avoid Probate in most situations. It is a time-consuming and expensive process in an overburdened court system.
There are thousands of pending Probate files in Cook County alone, with approximately ten judges to handle them all. The average Probate case can take 18 months to get through the system. During this time, while assets are subject to a court order, the real estate or financial markets may change, creditors may emerge, and estranged family members might surface. Add to this attorneys and executors fees, court, and bond costs. The total adds to the exorbitant cost and lengthy time of the Probate process.
Remember a Will does not avoid Probate.
Avoiding Probate involves the use of legal means to either remove assets from your name during your capacity and provide for beneficiaries or joint tenancy ownership of assets. The ideal approach is to establish a Living Trust. However, if your family member or friend has lost their capacity or has died with assets in their name, you are subject to the court process. You should secure the best legal representative to guide you through the process as quickly and inexpensively as possible.
If you are facing the Court, here is a list of factors to consider:
- Filing of a petition with the proper Court;
- A petition to appoint a personal representative may need to be filed and Letters of Administration obtained.
- Notice to heirs under the Will or to statutory heirs (if no will exists);
- Collecting all property of the decedent;
- Collecting all rights to income, dividends, etc;
- Creditors must be notified and legal notices published.
- There are time factors involved in filing and objecting to claims against the estate.
- Payment of estate debt to rightful creditors after a statutorily required period of 6 months.
- Consider if any lawsuits are pending involving the decedent’s death.
- Settling any disputes
- Inventory and appraisal of estate assets by Executor/Administrator;
- Sale of estate assets
- Payment of estate taxes, if applicable
- Payment of income taxes, if applicable.
- Distributing the remaining property to the heirs/beneficiaries.
Find out how you can avoid Probate here.
If you are facing Probate, contact us today for a free consultation and representation to protect your interests.