The Probate Process: From A To Z

If you take away one thing, it should be this: probate can be a long process. A typical or standard estate can take up to twelve months to pass through it—and an estate tied up in litigation can take multiple years. By highlighting the timeline, we are not taking the position that you should avoid probate, nor are we claiming you should seek it out. 

The length of the process needs to be considered when you and your attorney create an estate plan. Because there are pros and cons associated with probate, some people deliberately circumvent it by establishing trusts. To understand why the probate process takes as long as it does, we want to explain it from beginning to end. 

The Road Ahead

The probate process begins when you file the original will (if there is one) with the probate court. You have ten days from the date the person passed away to do this. The court formally establishes an executor of the estate by issuing a letter of Administration. This person manages the estate, oversees the payment of taxes and debts, and eventually gets the assets to the beneficiaries. 

There are two different types of probate processes in Illinois: supervised and independent. An excellent way to remember them is if you associate the supervised probate process with situations involving a contested estate. 

Because we mentioned creditors, it is essential to note that this is an element of the probate process. The executor publishes notices to creditors. After it is published, creditors have six months to file a claim with the estate. (Again, please note that this step alone takes half of a year.) Though it may seem unnecessary, the executor must give creditors evidence that the person who created the estate is deceased. 

At the start of this article, we said that litigated estates could take several years to pass through probate. And people typically object (possibly initiating litigation) during the next phase of the probate process when the will gets verified. Here are some common reasons why someone could contest a will:

  • Undue influence 
  • The person who created the will (the testator) didn’t have the mental capacity to do so
  • The will wasn’t signed or wasn’t done so in front of two witnesses
  • The testator was under duress
  • Additional documents contradict what is in the will 
  • Forgeries

The last steps of the process (before closing the estate) include ensuring the creditors and taxes have been paid and the beneficiaries receive the remaining assets. Debts do not disappear when we pass away, and this is why some (or all) of the estate’s contents go to creditors before the beneficiaries are entitled to them. 

Jayaraman Law

At Jayaraman Law, we work diligently to support you and your family throughout the probate process. Regardless of whether you are facing a supervised or independent probate process, we will help you navigate the road ahead so you can focus on what matters: your loved ones. Contact us to schedule a free consultation.

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Jayaraman Law

Jayaraman Law focuses on Estate Planning, Business Planning, and Real Estate. Each is executed with a passion for advocacy and serving clients. When your future depends on it, you need an experienced attorney. Our background is rooted in both the private and public sectors. Let our know-how be your greatest asset.