After someone dies, it is commonly understood that their assets and property, referred to as their estate, will be distributed according to their will. However, what happens if there is no will?
The estate of an Illinois resident who dies without a will must go through the probate process and be distributed according to inheritance laws. Before property can be distributed, a legal representative must be appointed to handle the estate. This person is chosen by a judge through what is called a letter of office.
Limited and full supervision probate
There are two types of probate to choose from in Illinois:
- Limited supervision: This involves an estate administrator filing a final accounting of the deceased individual’s property, which is approved by a judge.
- Full supervision: This involves a judge who is more involved in the case and may make decisions on how property is distributed.
If there are no disputes about property distribution, and the estate is relatively small, limited supervision probate will generally suffice. Full supervision may become necessary in larger, more complex states, with several people claiming rights to the estate or pieces of it.
Many people have concerns about the probate process. They may have heard stories about how the process can take months or even years if there are competing claims to the estate. While that does occur in some cases, probate typically involves following each of the required steps in the correct manner.
It is true that at times the probate process can be complex and confusing. It is always a good idea to have an estate plan that includes a valid will set up, but the reality that is not always possible. Probate attorneys can provide help and counsel through the probate process.