Probate is the formal legal process through which a person’s assets is transferred after their death. The entire probate process is supervised by a court of law and is aimed to protect anyone who has a legal interest in a deceased person’s estate, including not only creditors but also heirs or legatees who may have been disinherited in a person’s will. From start to finish, the probate process usually takes anywhere from nine (9) to fourteen (14) months.
If a person died with a will, the person who represents the estate in probate court is called an executor. When a person dies without a will, assets are transferred pursuant to the intestacy laws and the estate is represented by an administrator. Under either scenario, the estate must be represented by an attorney in probate court.
In Illinois, only those estates that exceed $100,000 in value must go through probate. Assets that are owned by estates valued at less than $100,000 can be transferred by the execution of a “Small Estate Affidavit.” Therefore, one goal of estate planning is to structure a person’s assets so that total assets owned in one’s name, individually, totals less than $100,000.
There are many ways to structure your estate so that the total value of property owned by you, individually, totals less than $100,000, such as putting assets in a trust. For more information about preparing an estate plan that avoids probate, thus saving your loved ones the time, expense and heartache that often goes along with it.