If you are the personal representative of a deceased person’s estate, or if you are involved in an inheritance dispute with other members of your family, you should consider hiring a Rolling Meadows estate administration lawyer. A skilled attorney can make the probate process less stressful.
Before a deceased person’s heirs can receive their inheritance, the estate must go through probate, also known as estate administration. It is not possible to bypass the estate administration process, no matter how rich or how poor the deceased person was. Estate administration is not only about distributing the deceased person’s assets to their designated beneficiaries; it is also about giving unfairly disinherited people a chance to challenge the will and creditors a chance to seek the repayment of debts from the estate. Whether you are a personal representative of an estate or are involved in a probate dispute, an experienced estate administration lawyer can help you.
In Illinois estate law, the terminology is slightly different depending on whether the deceased person wrote a will. If there is a will, then the personal representative of the estate is called the executor of the will. If the person did not leave a will, then the personal representative is called the administrator of the estate.
Distributing the deceased person’s assets to the beneficiaries named in the will is the last stage of estate administration. The beneficiaries only get what is left after the personal representative has filed the decedent’s final tax return and settled the decedent’s debts. Early in the probate process, the personal representative must notify known creditors that the estate is open for probate. The personal representative can find out about the decedent’s outstanding debts by reading the decedent’s mail or reviewing the decedent’s financial records. The personal representative must also publish a notice to creditors in the newspaper, with the same information contained in the notices sent to known creditors. This way, creditors have a fair chance to collect debts before the estate settles.
If the decedent owes a lot of money on tax obligations or unpaid debts, the court may order the personal representative to sell some of the decedent’s assets to satisfy these obligations. If you must sell a real estate property to pay the decedent’s debts, the beneficiaries who were supposed to inherit it must consent to the sale price.
The decedent’s spouse, but no other family member, may also claim a share of the estate even if the will doesn’t indicate this. This is called the spousal elective share, and it is one-half or one-third of the estate, depending on whether the decedent had children.
Unless there are complicating factors, most estates settle in less than a year. The process can take longer if someone alleges that the will was fraudulent or if there are multiple versions of the will, as well as if the decedent left behind large debts.
A power of attorney lawyer can help you fulfill your duties as personal representative of an estate. Contact Andrea Heckman Law in Rolling Meadows, Illinois, to discuss your questions about estate administration.
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