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.

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