What is Probate?

Chicago Probate Questions

The probate process includes the legal procedures by which the Illinois Probate Court oversees the provisions and execution of a proper will. The probate process offers an impartial judicial safeguard to ensure the best interests of heirs and creates a platform for heirs to clarify, discuss or challenge any component of a will.

What Does the Illinois Probate Court Charge?

In Illinois, each  county has a separate probate court.  Illinois state law sets the Illinois probate court fees for all probate courts across the state.  The responsibility for paying probate costs and fees will generally come from the probate estate, not from the executor, trustee or beneficiaries.  Initial estate expenses incurred by the executor, trustee, beneficiaries or others are generally reimbursed after the probate estate is opened.  The following is a summary of Illinois probate costs and fees for typical probate estates (current as of 9/18/2016):

  • filing fees – In Cook County, probate estates where the individual has a properly executed last will and testament – $453.00 ;
  • publication fees — Publication notice through Chicago Daily Law Bulletin – $215.00;
  • attorney fees – Our Chicago probate attorneys bill hourly for probate estate matters.  Generally, probate estates that do not require extensive involvement and do not encounter significant complications will typically cost $2,500 – $5,000, plus court costs.;
  • executor fees – Typically, the executor or personal representative is entitled to reasonable compensation; and
  • accountant and appraisal fees – Depending on what estate assets are involved, accounting and appraisal fee may be applicable.

Why do I need a Probate Lawyer?

A probate lawyer has experience filing the relevant probate documents and navigating the policies of the Illinois Probate Court to help heirs, executors and loved ones follow the proper procedures. In many cases, failure to file a single required document or omission of a technical legal requirement can amount to expensive, irreversible court consequences and fees. Our Chicago probate attorneys also offer experienced legal counsel on estate litigation matters, ranging from will contests to guardianship litigation to other probate litigation concerns. All of these legal concerns make it quite difficult for an individual to act without legal support throughout probate.

What are the Benefits of Probate?

There are numerous probate benefits from both a financial perspective and a legal standpoint. The probate process can be an important defense against creditors’ claims. Another probate benefit is that the process allows for court oversight and aid sort out disputes between heirs. The probate process also provides an arena to pay and challenge estate debts or estate taxes that a family might face.

What does it mean to “Avoid Probate”?

Avoiding the probate process occurs if no property or assets pass under the will. It would be foolish though to not accept the financial benefits of inheritance due to court inconveniences, so a popular alternative is the construction of a revocable trust. A revocable trusts avoids the paperwork and judicial involvement of probate which many individuals and families find to be a suitable alternative for their needs. Avoiding probate though does forfeit the ability to discuss and challenge the will with court oversight. This decision ultimately hinges upon circumstances and client interests. Our Chicago probate attorneys provide counsel to help individuals, families and businesses explore these options and select the best estate plan.