Depending on the size of your estate, your last wishes may require probate. With this process, the court supervises the payment of estate debts and the passage of assets to your heirs.

Review the probate process in Illinois to inform your estate plan.

Formal probate requirements

Illinois law requires probate only if the value of your solely-owned assets exceeds $100,000. When totaling the value of the estate, the state does not include certain types of property, including:

  • Assets you owned jointly with someone else, such as your surviving spouse
  • Real estate with a valid Illinois transfer-on-death deed
  • Retirement accounts, life insurance policies and other financial accounts with a beneficiary designation
  • Assets you placed in a trust

If your estate requires probate, the person you name as executor in your will starts the process with the local circuit court. He or she will submit your will for court approval and permission to administer the estate. The executor also inventories the estate assets, pays taxes and posts notice so possible creditors can submit claims to the estate.

Simple probate requirements

If your estate’s probate assets total less than $100,000, Illinois will allow simple probate. With this process, your beneficiaries simply claim their estate property from the court with a sworn affidavit.

While probate has a lengthy, expensive reputation, the required paperwork wraps up in about a year in most cases. However, if anyone questions the validity of your will or the actions of your executor, the process will last much longer and possibly require litigation. Having a comprehensive estate plan can help prevent these conflicts.