What is Probate?
Probate is the court supervised legal process that pays your debts and distributes the property held in your name at the time of your death. It also is the process that provides for guardianship of individuals who are incapacitated or incompetent rendering them legally incapable of handling their own affairs.
Your objective should be to avoid probate. It is a time consuming and expensive process in a overburdened court system. In Cook County alone there are over 100,000 pending probate files with 13 judges to handle them all. The average probate case takes 18 months to work its way through the system. During this time, while assets are frozen or subject to court order, the real estate or financial markets may change, creditors may emerge, estranged family members might surface. Add to this, attorneys and executors fees, court and bond costs. The sum total adds to the exorbitant cost and lengthy time of the probate process.
Remember a will does not avoid probate.
Avoiding probate involves the use of legal means to either remove assets from your name during your capacity and/or provide for beneficiaries and/or joint tenancy ownership of assets. The ideal approach is to establish a living trust . However if your family member or friend has lost their capacity or has died with assets in their name, then you are subject to the probate process and you need the best legal representative to guide you through the process as quickly and inexpensively as possible.
If you are facing probate, here is a list of factors to consider:
- Filing of a petition with the proper probate court;
- A petition to appoint a personal representative may need to be filed and letters of administration obtained.
- Notice to heirs under the will or to statutory heirs (if no will exists);
- Collecting all probate property of the decedent;
- Collecting all rights to income, dividends, etc;
- Creditors must be notified and legal notices published.
- There are time factors involved in filing and objecting to claims against the estate.
- Payment of estate debt to rightful creditors after statutory required period of 6 months.
- Consider if any lawsuits are pending involving the decedent’s death.
- Settling any disputes
- Inventory and appraisal of estate assets by executor/administrator;
- Sale of estate assets
- Payment of estate taxes, if applicable
- Payment of income taxes, if applicable.
- Distributing the remaining property to the heirs/beneficiaries.
Find out how you can avoid probate here.
If you are facing probate, contact us today for a free consultation and immediate representation to protect your interests.
Please click on these links for detailed information regarding Power of Attorney, Living Trust and Last Will & Testament.