When a loved one passes away, if they don’t have a trust that distributes all of their assets and money, the heirs and family must open Probate in order to obtain the documents needed to be able to administer the estate of the deceased. In order to open Probate, you must file a set of initial documents with the court where the deceased lived for the judge to understand the extent of the estate.

Please also be aware that certain counties may require additional documentation and you should refer to your Judge’s standing orders for a complete understanding of what will be needed. However, the documents you will need generally to prepare and submit are as follows:

Petition for Letters of Office: This is the initial petition document you file where you state who is making the petition for the letters of office and how much the estate has in it. You will need to state how much is there in the estate’s personal property, how much value there is in any real estate owned by the estate, and whether there is any current rental or other income coming in from the real estate.  

Affidavit of Heirship: In this document you will list out the family and heirs of the deceased. It can differ on how in depth you must be on this document depending on your judge so its often better to be more inclusive than less inclusive. Judges often want to know if there are living or deceased parents, siblings, and/or children of the deceased person.

Oath and Bond: This document is the oath you are making as the executor to administer the estate in good faith and to the best of your ability. This document is either submitted with or without Surety. Surety, also known as a Surety Bond, is an initial deposit you make with the court so that in case the money from the estate is stolen, the court has a pool of money in which to pay out the heirs. Will’s can and often do waive the need for this initial deposit.

Notice to Heirs or Waiver of Notice: When you open probate, you must notify the various heirs of your filing 30 days prior to the court date. Alternatively, if the heirs are willing to sign waivers of notice, those can be submitted instead and then notice is not required.

Pre-Prepared Orders: At your initial court date, you will be asking the Court to issue an order declaring heirship, which is the Court declaring that the heirs are indeed who you say they are, and an order appointing representative, which is what gives you the letters of office which allow you to administer the estate. You should have these pre-prepared before the hearing to open the estate and bring courtesy copies with you.

As previously mentioned, the documents listed above are just what is generally needed, counties can impose additional requirements and restrictions for documents and it is important to review your local court’s administrative orders and your local judge’s standing orders.

If you need to open a probate estate, please consider contacting the Law Office of Andrew Szocka P.C. We are an experienced law firm who open probate estates across McHenry, Cook, Will, Lake, Kane, and numerous other Illinois Counties. Consider giving us a call at 815-455-8430 or email us at

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