What are the Steps to Opening a Probate Case?
Just suppose your loved one dies without ever having the chance to make a will or trust. Now imagine that this person owns a home, has bank accounts and investments. If you are the surviving spouse and you own everything joint, then, in most cases, everything passes to you. But what happens if you each owned your own accounts and investments, no beneficiary is named and you need to access the account? A probate case may be required with or without a Will.
- Meet with an attorney that handles probate estates.
- Bring a copy of the death certificate, the original will, if one exists, a list with names, addresses, ages and how related of all beneficiaries/heirs of the deceased, and a copy of the latest bank/investment account statements that you have in your possession. The attorney will also need a copy of the deed to the real estate.
- Someone will have to agree to be appointed the Independent Administrator of the estate. In the event that there is a will, the will usually names an executor and requests that a surety bond be waived. If no will exists, the Court will appoint an administrator and will require a surety bond in the amount of 1.5 times the total amount of the estate. The cost of a bond can be quite high.
- Once the paperwork has been completed and filed with the Court, the Court enters an order stating the amount of the bond required. The bond is obtained and submitted to the court. Letters of Office will be issued naming an Independent Administrator.
- A Claim Notice published in the newspaper once a week for 3 weeks is required as a notification that a probate estate has been opened. This allows a claim for repayment of a debt to be filed against the estate within a six-month period of the publication.
- Once Letters of Office are issued, the Independent Administrator may then sell the real estate and handle any bank account or investment accounts that are open in the deceased’s name.
- The Independent Administrator is required to keep an accounting of all the transactions of the estate, all receipts and all distributions. At the end of one year, an accounting of these transactions must be filed with the Court.
If no claims are filed and administration goes smoothly, the probate matter can be closed at the end of one year and the Independent Administrator may be discharged.
If you are thinking about a Probate Matter, local attorney Andrew Szocka provides thorough and speedy Probate assistance in the Chicagoland area. To schedule a free initial consultation, visit Andrew Szocka, P.C. online or call the office at (815) 455-8430.