A commonly held belief is that probate is a bad thing and should be avoided at all costs.  Probate in Illinois can be a lengthy process, often taking several months to a year, or longer, and is a matter of public record.  Probate can also be expensive in terms of court costs, attorneys fees, accounting and appraisal fees.  While the issues of time and expense should certainly be considered, Illinois probate is not always something an individual should avoid when engaging in the estate planning process.  There are in fact many ways in which the probate process can prove beneficial to estate heirs, and when these probate benefits outweigh the need for avoiding probate, an individual may be elect to go through the probate process.

As noted above, the primary probate benefits may be found in the probate court’s oversight in the transfer of estate assets.  The probate court ensure that the transfer of estate assets is accomplished in a transparent and orderly manner.  With a probate court’s supervision during the transfer process, estate assets could be transferred to the wrong person or they could be transferred in the incorrect amount. Moreover, the probate court allocates authority to the executor of the estate to pay off any debts prior to distributing the estate assets, which is very important.  The probate court requires that the executor complete certain requirements to ensure the proper steps have been taken in accordance with the last will and testament (and any other estate planning instruments).  Moreover, the probate court will ensure that the estate assets are not distributed until creditors and tax authorities are paid.

Are there any benefits to my last will and testament going through the probate court?

Our Chicago law firm will work closely with you to clearly present how probate may be of benefit in your particular situation.
Another benefit of probating an estate via court oversight is ensuring that no dispute arises in connection with title of ownership to certain estate property.  If personal property, such as a car or valuable heirloom, has been transferred through the probate process, the chain of title to the personal property will be clear without the ownership issues due to the required record keeping ordered by the probate court.

In addition, the probate process provides a venue for the handling of any estate, creditor or beneficiary disputes.  If there are any disputes, the probate court will hear the disputing parties’ claims and make a final determination on any legal issues.  Without the finality of a court ruling, disagreements over estate assets could easily tear a family apart.

Whether you are in need of creating a well-drafted estate plan or document, getting through the complex process of probate, understanding your legal rights in the matter or getting your important questions answered, our Chicago estate planning attorneys can help.  Request a free estate planning consultation by contacting our Chicago law firm.