If you have recently lost a friend or family member, you may be overwhelmed with emotions of hurt and loss. In addition to those feelings, you may have to help with the process of settling your friend or family member's estate. In some cases, the estate will enter into the probate process. In Illinois and in many other states across the nation, the probate process is designed to assist in finalizing any property and assets left behind by the deceased. Whether named by the deceased in the last will and testament or appointed by the court, the executor or estate administrator is in charge of seeing the case through the probate process.
During probate, the executor gathers important documents, including the will, life insurance policies and death certificate. The executor then gathers the property and assets involved in the estate, including property, vehicles, expensive collections, trust funds, 401k plans and term life insurance policies, and has them appraised to find the estate's value. Certain expenses left behind by the deceased, such as taxes and property bills, may be paid from the estate. The remaining property and assets are then distributed to beneficiaries named in the last will and testament. Throughout the entire process, the executor is responsible for the estate and must ensure nothing happens to the property and assets involved.
The probate process can last anywhere from several months to several years depending on the circumstances surrounding the case. Some cases may avoid the probate process if the deceased has everything transferred into a trust upon death.
This information is intended to educate and should not be taken as legal advice.