When Illinois residents draft an estate plan, they often focus on the documents they include and the contents of them. While these are very important, it is also crucial to consider what the estate administration process will look like. In other words, if their estate plan were to enter the probate process, what would occur and what duties will their executor have?
In most cases, the state where the decedent resides will also be the state that governs the decedent’s estate administration. However, if the decedent owned property in other states, it is possible that an ancillary probate proceeding will need to occur in that state.
The complexity of the estate determines how it will be administered. If a will is in place, then the first step will be to probate the will. If a judge determines that the will is valid, then the named executor can begin the estate administration process.
The tasks of the executor
Once an executor is named, they must file various documents with the court, including the will, the death certificate and an estimated value of the estate. Next, the executor should notify the heirs and beneficiaries that they filed to open up an estate and that they filed the decedent’s will and are seeking the position of the executor.
Next, the executor must manage the estate, this means taking inventory of the estate. This includes real estate, personal property, bank accounts, investments, retirement funds, loans, outstanding debts and the contents of safe deposit boxes. The executor must also note all debts of the decedent, including credit card debt, mortgages, car loans, personal loans and taxes owed for the last year of life.
Much like the executor is tasked with passing the property and assets of the decedent to their named heirs and beneficiaries, the executor is also in charge of paying the debts of the decedent with the estate.
The above information is just a brief description of estate administration and the tasks of the executor of the estate. The process is more complex and include many working parts. As such, it is important that one fully understands the estate administration process just as much as the estate planning process.