Estate & Probate Administration

Estate & Probate Administration

Chicagoland Estate and Probate Administration Attorneys

Losing a loved one is difficult, and taking on the responsibility of settling their affairs after they have passed can add confusion and stress at an already painful time. Working with an experienced estate and probate administration attorney can significantly ease this burden. Your attorney will guide you through the administration of a will, trust, or probate process, helping you to properly distribute your loved one’s property. Your attorney will handle the legal matters so you can focus on processing the loss of your loved one.

What is Estate Administration?

Probate is the court-supervised process by which the validity of a will, if any exists, is determined, and a decedent’s (deceased person’s) property is distributed to the appropriate beneficiaries. The total collection of all property, assets, and debts is referred to as the decedent’s estate. You do not need to own a home or land to have an estate.

The probate process ensures that the decedent’s property goes to the correct people and that those beneficiaries are given clean title to the property they inherit. Probate can be a complex and time-consuming process, and it is important that it be conducted correctly to avoid future problems.  

During the probate process, the decedent’s estate will be opened and administered. A qualified estate administration attorney can help you:

  • File the will with the probate court
  • Appoint a personal representative who is responsible for the administration of the estate
  • Send appropriate notice of the probate process to creditors and other parties
  • Take an inventory of the property
  • Appraise the property
  • Collect any debts owed to the decedent
  • Pay any liabilities that the decedent owed to others
  • Pay taxes and file tax returns—the estate tax return is especially complex and should only be handled by an attorney
  • Identify and locate beneficiaries
  • Distribute property according to the will or trust or, if there is no estate plan in place, according to the applicable rules of intestacy
  • Retitle assets to beneficiaries
  • File a petition for discharge and close the estate

Probate Litigation

Disputes may arise about the legitimacy of wills, trusts, or powers of attorney; the powers of guardians or conservators; or the administration of the estate. If there is a dispute in the probate process, we can litigate and ensure that your loved one’s estate is distributed according to his or her wishes. 

Can Some Estates Avoid Probate?

Probate does not necessarily affect every aspect of a decedent’s estate. Only property distributed via a will or under the rules of intestacy is subject to the probate process. Probate is not necessary for property held as joint tenants, beneficiary designations such as life insurance policies, or property in inter vivos trusts, also known as living trusts. In Illinois and Indiana, a living trust can be used to designate beneficiaries for a wide range of assets, from furniture and cars to bank accounts. A skilled estate planning attorney can help you create the necessary documents to minimize or possibly even avoid the need for probate.

Trusted Estate and Probate Administration Lawyers Serving You

The attorneys at Spagnolo & Hoeksema, LLC have helped many families in Indiana and Illinois navigate the probate process, and we would be honored to help you, too. To learn more about our estate planning and administration services, please contact our office today.

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