What is Probate?

Chicago Probate QuestionsProbating an estate means taking the original will to to the Illinois Probate Court to have it accepted as the proper will. The probate process requires filing the will, filing the inventory of estate assets and filing all other necessary papers to properly distribute the estate

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?

Consider the following example:

If a benefactor’s estate is estimated to be worth $450,000 with a house worth $85,000 that the the tax assessor has appraised at $60,000 , then one would be inclined to report the value of the house at $60,000 in the estate inventory. If the heir then happens to sell this house later on for $85,000, then the the heir will find themselves with a $25,000 income tax capital gain and roughly $5,000 due in income taxes. If the heir had properly consulted a probate lawyer before reporting the $60,000 house value in the estate inventory, then the incurred $5,000 income tax may been avoided. The mathematics in this case are simple. A probate lawyer can often lower unforeseeable costs for the heir to save them money in the future; in this case, the heir could have easily saved $5,000.

What are the Benefits of Probate?

There are many potential probate benefits that can make the process worthwhile in a financial sense. The probate process can be particularly useful to shield an estate from creditors, to challenge potentially unnecessary or wrongful debts placed upon an estate, and to settle possible disagreements between the heirs regarding the inheritance.

What does it mean to “Avoid Probate”?

Avoiding the probate process means not having anything pass under the will. If you choose to avoid probate, you do not have to file any papers to the probate court or incur any probate fees. In some cases, avoiding probate may useful to safe both time and money. A revocable living trusts or a pour-over will are the two most common legal devices to transfer estate assets and property while avoiding probate in the process. Our Chicago Estate Planning Attorneys can provide legal counsel in understanding the necessary conditions to either pursue the probate process or avoid it all together.