What is probate?

Probate is a court process of overseeing that the instructions in your will are followed, those to whom you owed money are paid, and empowering someone, an executor, to carry out those duties. Probate sometimes gets a bad rap on the street. It’s not uncommon for clients to ask us how to avoid probate, or bypass probate, altogether. However, having your estate pass through probate doesn’t have to be a terrible thing. Oftentimes, probate proceedings can be handled without the need to ever appear in court and probate sometimes serves valuable functions such as cutting off creditors or providing court oversight of difficult beneficiaries. Probate in Illinois typically takes at least a year to  complete, although there are surges in activity and periods of lull. Reasons clients dislike probate usually come down to timelines, additional costs and the fact that all records filed in probate become public records discoverable by anyone who is interested. If clients are particularly concerned with probate, we are happy to discuss ways to avoid it, but bear in mind that probate in itself is not a bad word.