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.
When a person dies without a will or there are questions regarding its validity, the person's estate will move to probate. This process has many different components, from proving that a will is indeed valid to settling any remaining debt. The Balance offers the following information on what families can expect during a probate hearing.
An executor's duties are to keep an estate in good financial condition. When the time comes, the executor distributes the assets as directed by the estate. Most people believe they have chosen a trustworthy and good executor, but sometimes executors prove they are not trustworthy to manage assets. If you suspect an executor of mismanaging assets of an estate in Illinois for which you are a beneficiary, you may take steps to stop him or her.
It may seem like contesting a will is something that happens all the time, but the reality is that there must be a good reason for the court to allow a will contest. The state of Illinois sets the guidelines for when a will can be contested. It is a good idea to understand them. Knowing the grounds can enable you to avoid issues with your own will or ensure a loved one's will will not be contested.
While we have many potential clients approach us at Zapolis & Associates, P.C., as the beneficiaries-- or not, as the case may be-- of disadvantageous wills, few of these situations involve undue influence. This does not mean that all wills written by competent grantors in Illinois are valid: far from it.
Illinois wills are often unnecessarily confusing, especially when they land you in complicated and costly probate court litigation. While we work with many of our clients to plan their estates around avoiding probate, some people come to us already mired in the painstakingly slow estate valuation and distribution characteristic of the processes. When this happens, our first goal at Zapolis & Associates, P.C., is to expedite the situation as much as possible for the good of the family.
If your estate is subject to probate, you run the risk of incurring steep legal costs and delaying the distribution of your assets to your heirs. Avoiding probate is crucial in this case, and there are a few methods you can utilize during estate planning that will allow you to do just that. The Balance has more information on how you can arrange your estate so that probate is no longer a concern.
If you have reason to believe that the executor, or anyone else for that matter, is stealing from your mother's Illinois estate, there is recourse under the state's probate law.
If you are an Illinois resident who has been disinherited by a family member or otherwise are dissatisfied with the provision of someone’s will, you can challenge the authenticity of the will in court. This is called a will contest. As FindLaw explains, however, contesting a will is rarely successful. Up to 99 percent of American wills go through probate with no problems and no challenges.
While it might be easy for many in Mokena to dismiss those who contest the estate decisions of their loved ones as simply being petty or motivated by greed, it should be remembered that a good deal of emotion goes into the disbursement of an estate. When you lose someone close to you, your grief can easily be compounded if it appears that his or her true wishes are not expressed in his or her will. That may lead to questions as to whether or not another beneficiary (likely also someone you share a relationship with) might have attempted to exploit your family member or friend for financial gain. If such doubt does exist, can you be blamed for wanting to contest the will?