Tag: Executor

What Should You Do If Your Relative Chose You as His Executor?

Not long ago, your relative told you that he chose you as the executor of his estate. You are not sure what being an executor means, and you don’t know what your responsibilities are. Now, your relative has sadly  passed away. What should you do?

  1. Making Funeral Arrangements

Since you believe that you are the executor of your relative’s estate, you may need to take charge of making funeral arrangements. Talk to other family members and find out if your relative left a document explaining his funeral and burial wishes. This may be a separate document or part of a will or power of attorney. Follow those wishes if you can. If you cannot locate anything, ask your family what they think your relative might have wanted and take their suggestions into consideration.

  1. Look for the Will and Other Important Documents

You also need to find the will and other important documents concerning your relative’s estate. In particular, you need to confirm that you are listed as the executor in the will. The will may be in your relative’s house, with a trusted person like a lawyer or financial advisor, or locked up in a safe or safe deposit box. Getting access to the will could take some time and even require a court order. If you are having trouble finding it, you may want to speak to a lawyer to learn more about your obligations and duties.

  1. What to Do with the Will

When you find a will, you may need to submit it to the probate court. In some cases, when an estate has a lower value, you do not need court help to distribute the estate. Figuring out whether the probate court needs to get involved usually involves assessing the estate’s overall value, which might require professional help.

If you need to go to court, locate a lawyer who can assist with filing court forms and appearing before the judge. If you do not need to go to court, you will still need to do some paperwork. Executors have to gather all estate assets, figure out how much they are worth, locate heirs, and distribute the assets to the heirs according to the will. This process can take months or years depending on the estate’s complexity. Once the estate is completely distributed and taxes are filed properly, the executor’s job is done.

Appointed executor of an estate and need legal advice? Local attorney Andrew Szocka, Esq. provides thorough and speedy estate planning help in the Chicagoland area. To schedule a free initial consultation, visit the Law Office of Andrew Szocka, P.C. online or call the office at (815) 455-8430.

Locating the Will and Beginning the Estate Administration Process

After a loved one passes away, you and your family may need to locate the will and begin the estate administration process. This could seem like a daunting task. Fortunately, if you are not the executor, it is not your job to do anything besides alert the court if you find a will.

Finding the Will

Your loved one could have left a will almost anywhere – in a safe deposit box, with a lawyer, among other important paperwork, or in a box under the bed. Ask family members if the deceased person ever mentioned a will (or mentioned not making a will). Look for contact information of an estate planning attorney or other trusted professional who may have the will.

If you find a will, you, the executor, or another family member need to alert the probate court that the will exists. (Sometimes, if the estate is small enough, this is not necessary – talk to a lawyer to learn more.) The will should list an executor that the loved one has chosen to distribute his or her estate. Once the probate court learns of the will, a judge should appoint the estate executor to gather and distribute the estate.

If you cannot find a will or believe that the deceased person did not make one, don’t worry. The estate may be small enough that family members can distribute it themselves, or you may need the probate court to appoint a personal representative in lieu of an executor.

The Estate Administration Process

During the estate administration process, the executor or personal representative gathers all assets that belonged to the deceased person. He or she must list the assets and their values for the court. The executor also identifies and locates heirs. Once the court approves, the executor can distribute estate assets to the heirs in the manner explained in the will or prescribed by law. This is often referred to as “probating the will”. The executor also handles filing and paying taxes, and he or she helps meet any other legal requirements or resolve any disputes that arise.

Executors often need help from probate lawyers to handle court appearances and filings. If you have been appointed executor and are in over your head, reach out to a local lawyer for assistance.

Need help administering an estate? Local attorney Andrew Szocka, Esq. provides thorough and speedy estate planning help in the Chicagoland area. To schedule a free initial consultation, visit the Law Office of Andrew Szocka, P.C. online or call the office at (815) 455-8430.

What Are the First Steps to Take After a Loved One Dies?

After a loved one dies, your first thoughts are probably not about his or her estate plan. But it is important to take certain steps soon after the death in order to protect the estate. These steps include making funeral and burial arrangements, locating the will, and maintaining the estate’s value.

What Should You Do First?

When someone passes away, you should not immediately start taking items from their home or distributing their estate. There is a legal process to follow for estate distribution, and violating it can get you in trouble. Instead, first focus on funeral and burial arrangements.

The deceased person may have had specific wishes surrounding organ donation, anatomical gifts, funeral arrangements, and burial or cremation. You and other people close to the loved one should look for a document that lists these wishes. It may be a will or a separate piece of paper, and it may be with other important documents, with the person’s lawyer, or in another safe place. Sometimes, people include wishes about organ donation and anatomical gifts in their health care directives too. If you find a document listing these wishes, then notify family members and do your best to carry out the wishes.

Looking for the Will

In addition, you and others close to the deceased person should look for his or her will. Again, it might be in a safe place like a safe deposit box or with a lawyer. You may not be able to gain access to the safe deposit box right away without help from the probate court.

If you can’t find a will, don’t stress out. Sometimes wills are difficult to locate, and sometimes people do not make wills. Again, you should not start distributing the deceased person’s property. Talk to an estate planning and probate lawyer instead for help beginning the estate administration process.

Maintaining the Estate’s Value

Finally, you can take important steps towards maintaining the estate’s value. This may involve tasks like keeping an eye on the loved one’s house or caring for a child or pet. You may receive reimbursement from the estate later, and you will help out enormously until the executor or personal representative of the estate can step in. Once the executor is located and takes charge, he or she will handle finances, maintaining property, and other needed tasks.

Not sure what to do after a loved one’s death? Local attorney Andrew Szocka, Esq. provides thorough and speedy estate planning help in the Chicagoland area. To schedule a free initial consultation, visit the Law Office of Andrew Szocka, P.C. online or call the office at (815) 455-8430.

What You Need to Know About Probate Court in Illinois

If you need the help of a probate court in Illinois, you probably have some questions about the probate process. You may not be familiar with what the court does and why you might need it. Also, you may have questions about your case before you go to court.

What Does a Probate Court Do?

In Illinois, judges assigned to the probate court division of a courthouse decide legal issues related to estates, wills, and trusts. For example, if disputes arise about how a trust should be run, the probate court handles the case. The beneficiaries might believe that the trustee is not running the trust well, or the trustee might need a legal decision on how to interpret the trust document.

Probate judges also spend a lot of time supervising estate executors or personal representatives in the process of distributing deceased people’s assets. The probate process for estates with or without wills involves many steps, including:

  • Reviewing a will
  • Locating and notifying heirs
  • Handling disputes by heirs and claimed heirs
  • Locating and notifying creditors
  • Handling creditor claims
  • Gathering all of the deceased person’s assets
  • Managing assets so that they do not lose value
  • Distributing assets according to the will or the rules of intestate succession

The probate court judge handles some parts of the probate process, and he or she oversees the estate executor or personal representative for the rest. Disputes or questions that the judge must decide can arise at all of these steps in the process.

When Do You Need to Go to Probate Court?

If you are named as the executor in a will or are a family member helping with your deceased relative’s estate, you may need to file a probate court petition. Under Illinois law, estates with lower total values do not always need to go through probate court. But it can be difficult to determine if a particular estate meets those requirements. You may need legal help to make the final determination.

As for trust and inheritance disputes, consulting a lawyer is a good idea too. You will want to know your chances of prevailing in probate court, whether you think the trustee is mismanaging the trust or you think you should inherit part of an estate. The legal issues can be complicated, and the probate process is not always easy without an experienced attorney guiding you.

Do you have more questions about probate court? Local attorney Andrew Szocka, Esq. provides thorough and speedy estate planning help in the Chicagoland area. To schedule a free initial consultation, visit the Law Office of Andrew Szocka, P.C. online or call the office at (815) 455-8430.

How Do You Figure Out Who Is the Estate’s Executor?

How Do You Figure Out Who Is the Estate’s ExecutorWhen a relative passes away, you may need to figure out who is the executor of his or her estate in order to distribute the relative’s assets to heirs. Determining the executor is usually relatively simple once you locate the will.

Why Do You Need to Identify the Executor?

An estate executor serves several important functions in distributing and settling a deceased person’s estate. He or she gathers all of the deceased person’s assets, locates any heirs, notifies creditors, and distributes the assets to heirs. The executor handles payment of taxes and legal fees, hiring professionals if necessary to help manage estate assets. In addition, an estate executor sometimes must make filings with the probate court.

An executor usually needs to take charge of estate assets soon after a person passes away to prevent any reduction in value of the assets (such as unpaid bills or damage from neglect). Sometimes, the burial arrangements or end of life wishes could be delayed because the executor has not been identified quickly.

How Do You Identify the Executor?

The deceased person’s will should name the executor. Many wills also name successor executors in case the first one cannot or will not perform the job. Once you locate the will, locating the executor is usually simple.

In some cases, though, you might have a tough time figuring out who is the estate executor. This could happen if:

  • The will does not name an executor
  • You cannot locate the person named as executor
  • The executor has died or is incapacitated and no successor is named
  • You cannot find the will
  • The deceased person did not make a will

If there is no will, then the probate court likely needs to appoint an estate representative to serve essentially the same function as an executor. You or another interested person such as a relative or friend of the deceased person needs to apply to the court requesting this appointment. The probate judge will then select an appropriate person to serve as representative with court supervision.

Need help handling a deceased relative’s estate? Local attorney Andrew Szocka, Esq. provides thorough and speedy estate planning help in the Chicagoland area. To schedule a free initial consultation, visit the Law Office of Andrew Szocka, P.C. online or call the office at (815) 455-8430.

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