At some point in your life you are bound to find yourself directly involved in the probate of the estate of a decedent. If you are involved because you are a beneficiary or heir of the estate you will not need to spend much time figuring out the ins and outs of the Illinois probate process; however, if you were named as the Executor of the estate, or you volunteered to be the Administrator of the estate if the decedent died intestate, you will need at least a working knowledge of the Illinois probate process. Because we understand how frustrating it can be trying to navigate the judicial system for the first time while you are also still grieving the loss of a loved one, we have put together some resources that may help you find the services, advice, and support you need.
If you are the Executor or Administrator of the estate of someone who was a resident of Lincolnshire, Illinois, or the surrounding area, you will probate the estate in the Lake County court system. Specifically, the estate will be probated in the Lake County Probate Court, which moved to the Park City Branch Court back in 2012. The Probate Court falls within the broader Civil Court system in Lake County. As such, much of the information you may need regarding the court can be found on the Lake County Civil Division website. General information about probating an estate as well as many of the forms required during the probate process can be found on the court’s “Wills and Probate” page. The court’s “Frequently Asked Questions” page is also an excellent source for answers to commonly asked questions relating to the probate process. For a more in-depth explanation about the probate process, the judges have prepared a brochure entitled “Probate Court” that may be helpful. If you need to search court records in Lake County you can do so by filling out a record search form that is also found on the website.
Where Else Can You Turn for Help?
Unless you have served as an Executor/Administrator before, the prospect of doing so now may be a bit daunting. Probating an estate can require a considerable time commitment and at least a basic understanding of a number of financial and legal concepts. It is for these reasons that most Executors/Administrators retain the services of an experienced Illinois estate planning attorney to assist them throughout the probate of the estate. If you wish to learn more about the probate process on your own, however, the American Bar Association also has a “Frequently Asked Questions” section that can provide a good deal of helpful information. The National Center for State Courts (NCSC) also has a wealth of useful information about probate on its website.
Finding an Attorney
If you decide that consulting with an experienced estate planning attorney would be beneficial, your next step is to find the right attorney. One place to begin your search for an attorney is the American Academy of Estate Planning Attorneys (AAEPA). The AAEPA is a national organization of attorneys who have chosen to focus their practice on legal issues related to wills, trusts, and estates. Membership in the AAEPA signifies that an attorney has proven experience in the areas of estate planning and/or elder law. The AAEPA can assist you in finding the right attorney to help you through the probate process. Likewise, the Illinois State Bar Association’s “Find a Lawyer” program may also be able to help you find the right lawyer for you.
Practical Resources for the Executor or Administrator
Whether you were appointed or volunteered for the job, one of the first things that must be done to get the probate process started is to obtain a certified copy of the decedent’s death certificate and submit it to the court. You may request a certified copy of the decedent’s death certificate through the Illinois Department of Public Health. Once the probate process is underway, you will also be required to provide notice to all potential creditors by publishing notice in a local newspaper, such as the Lake County Journal. As the Executor/Administrator of the estate, one of your duties is to ensure that you have identified and located all of the estate assets. To do that, you may wish to search the Lake County Recorder of Deeds database to make sure you have identified all real property owned by the decedent at the time of death. If you need assistance with the “date of death” values required of all estate assets, you may wish to hire an appraiser. A good place to start in your search for an appraiser is the International Society of Appraisers (ISA) website.
Tax Related Resources
Before you can wrap up the probate of an estate you must determine if the estate will owe any state and/or federal gift and estate taxes. Illinois is one of a handful of states that impose a state estate tax. For help calculating any Illinois estate tax due, try the Illinois Attorney General’s “Decedent’s Estate Tax Calculator” tool located on the website. The forms you will need to file the estate’s Illinois estate tax return can also be found on the Attorney General’s website. For information relating to federal gift and estate taxes, try reading through the Estate Tax overview on the IRS website as well as the “Frequently Asked Questions on Estate Taxes” section. Contact Us
If you have additional questions or concerns regarding the Illinois probate process, contact the experienced Illinois estate planning attorneys at Hedeker Law, Ltd. by calling (847) 913-5415 to schedule an appointment.