What is Probate

Probate is a court proceeding where the estate of a deceased loved one is settled in accordance with state law. Probate laws govern how the property of the deceased is handled if they die with a will (Testate) or without a will (Intestate).

​The loss of a loved one can be devastating. Not only are you mourning the death of your family member, but you are also faced with managing their affairs, which can include gathering their assets, paying debts, renting or selling their real estate, and distributing their property to family members.

Property includes more than real estate. It also includes:

  • Real estate
  • Bank Accounts (checking, saving, money market accounts, CDs, etc.)
  • Insurance accounts
  • Retirement accounts (401k, pension funds)
  • Personal property like jewelry, furniture, cars, etc.
The level of difficulty in settling their affairs usually depends on how much property your loved one owned, whether the deceased had a will or living trust (Testate) or died without an estate plan (Intestate).

In some instances, your loved one may have a Small Estate, which means the deceased didn’t own real estate and/or the property is valued at less than $100,000. Illinois law allows you to settle a Small Estate using the Small Estate Affidavit. If the estate includes real estate and/or property valued at more than $100,000, you will likely have to go through the Probate Court process to pay their outstanding debts and distribute the property to loved ones.

What Happens in Probate Court?

The probate laws of Illinois are very technical and govern 3 types of proceedings:

Settling the affairs of the deceased.

Guardianship of Minors.

Guardianship of disabled or incapacitated adults.

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