What Is Probate?


In Illinois, Probate is a legal process to administer a deceased person’s estate, such as to account assets and debts, pay claims, and transfer and/or distribute money and property to a surviving spouse, children, or designated persons under the Will or according to the laws of intestacy (no Will). 

Probate is not always required and there are many exceptions and options, including use of a small estate affidavit. Probate is a structured process with deadlines, claims periods, court rules, and a Probate Court to make rulings, decisions, and enter necessary court orders to account, determine, and distribute an estate’s assets in an orderly fashion and manner. There are advantages and disadvantages of Probate – each situation is unique and must be closely analyzed and reviewed. 

In certain situations, Probate administration is required such as:

  • If the deceased person’s assets total over $100,000; or
  • If the deceased person owned real estate in his/her individual name with no co-owner or beneficiary under Transfers on Death Instrument. 

An advantage of Probate is that creditors are faced with a shorter statute of limitations – which is a designated time period for creditors to file claims against the estate so long as the estate is published placing creditors on notice. If a Probate estate is not opened, the statute of limitations is longer thereby giving creditors longer periods of time to file claims against the estate. 

Probate and the alternatives to Probate should be discussed at the Estate Planning stage, such as to discuss joint ownership of property with rights of survivorship or beneficiary designations, Last Will & Testament, Trust, Transfer on Death Instrument, and Powers of Attorney. 

Each situation is unique and different. At MillerKing Law Firm, we are glad to discuss your situation and circumstances. You may contact us at (618) 462-8405 or visit our website at www.millerkinglaw.com