Estate Administration & Probate

Estate administration is the process of winding up someone’s financial affairs after their death, paying their last bills, and distributing the property that is left over. If you have ever had to administer the estate of a loved one who has died, you already know how hard it can be. If you were lucky, the deceased left behind a will or trust and a tidy, updated list of assets and account numbers. Unfortunately, it is usually not that simple. Many people don’t have an estate plan, and many of those who do have a will or trust don’t have all of their information updated and in one place.

Estate administration is hard enough under the best of circumstances, because you’re grieving. When you don’t know what papers you need, where to find them, or if they even exist, it can feel completely overwhelming.

Fortunately, if you have to administer an estate, you don’t have to figure things out on your own. At Legacy Legal, we have helped many families through the Illinois estate administration process. We focus on making the unfamiliar understandable, taking as much off your plate as we can, and giving you the tools you need to handle the rest with confidence.

What is Probate?

Probate is one type of estate administration. If your loved one had a will, the court will probably appoint the executor named in the will to serve as the personal representative of the estate. If there was no will, the court will usually appoint a close family member to serve in that role.

The personal representative of the estate is responsible for managing the estate, including:

  • Gathering, inventorying, and safeguarding property
  • Notifying heirs and creditors about the probate process
  • Filing and paying taxes for the estate
  • Paying estate debts
  • Distributing remaining assets according to the will or Illinois law
  • Closing the probate estate

Exactly what the probate process involves depends on the value of the estate, whether there are any disputes over the estate, and how much of the estate property has to go through probate. Not all property does.

For example, property in a trust doesn’t go through probate at all; it passes according to the terms of the trust. Neither does a lot of jointly-owned property, like a house owned by joint tenancy or most joint bank accounts. Assets like life insurance, annuities, and retirement accounts pass by beneficiary designation, not through probate. It can be confusing, and if you’ve never administered an estate before, it can be hard to know where to start. We can help.

Educate. Equip. Empower.

At Legacy Legal, we will walk you through the estate administration process step by step. We begin by educating you about your options. Depending on your situation, you may not need probate at all; you may be able to use a simplified process like small estate administration that does not require court involvement. We will break down Illinois law in a way that makes sense, so that you know what to do and feel confident about doing it.

Once you understand what needs to happen in your case and why, we will equip you to take each step in the process, ensuring that you have the proper documents and tools. We empower you with the peace of mind knowing that you have fulfilled your obligations correctly and completely.

Administering an estate isn’t just a legal process; it’s an emotional one. Managing the details of estate business can seem like a lot to navigate, especially when you’re grieving. At Legacy Legal, we support and advise you at every step.

To learn more about our estate administration and probate services, please review our Frequently Asked Questions or contact Legacy Legal to schedule a consultation.