17+ Years of Experience Handling Complex Probate and Estate Cases in Chicago and Surrounding Areas
Probate and estate planning matters are some of the most complex legal matters to handle. At RDS Law Offices LLC, we understand how high the stakes may be when you are planning for your family’s future or going through probate court with an inherited estate. Our probate and estate planning attorney has been practicing law since 2004, and he takes pride in settling even the most “unsettleable” cases. We also intentionally take on a limited caseload so we can devote personal attention to resolving your case.
Schedule a free consultation with RDS Law Offices, LLC online to get started on your probate or estate planning matter.
The Probate Process
The Illinois probate process is a court-supervised legal procedure that may be required after someone dies. Probate clarifies who inherits the deceased person's property and aims to make sure valid debts and taxes are paid. Probate is handled by the deceased person's executor, who must:
- prove in court that a deceased person's will is valid;
- identify and inventory the deceased person's assets;
- have the assets appraised;
- pay any leftover debts and taxes;
- distribute the remaining property as the will directs (according to state law if there is no will).
Depending on what assets the deceased person left behind, a formal probate proceeding may or may not be required. Generally, probate is necessary in Illinois if there are assets that the deceased person owned solely (not jointly), and all the probate assets are worth more than $100,000 altogether.
Note that many assets do not need to go through probate, including:
- assets held in trust (e.g., a living revocable trust designed to avoid probate);
- assets owned in joint tenancy or tenancy by the entirety;
- assets subject to a beneficiary designation (e.g., retirement accounts for which a beneficiary has been named, payable-on-death bank accounts);
- real estate subject to an Illinois transfer-on-death deed.
Most probate cases can be handled with some paperwork and are finished within about a year. However, if relatives or other inheritors contest the will or the assets, the process can take much longer. An experienced probate lawyer can better guide you through the probate process, whether you have to go through a formal process or have questions about what assets need to go through the probate court.
Estate planning is a process for building a plan for your assets and how they are owned. Estate planning is important for all adults, regardless of their age, income, or net worth. Having a proper plan will not only ensure that your property is passed based on your wishes but will also reduce the stress that your loved ones face during their period of mourning. That’s why it’s important to choose an experienced estate planning attorney who has the skill and dedication to help you develop a plan that suits your family’s needs.
Some common estate planning tools include:
- Last Will and Testament – a legal document that establishes how you want to distribute your property and handle the care of any minor children; if you don’t have a will, the state will distribute these assets according to state laws
- Trust – a method of estate transfer involving a fiduciary relationship between you and another named party granted the authority to handle your assets for the benefit of your third party beneficiaries
- Power of Attorney – a legal authorization that gives a designated person (the agent or attorney-in-fact) the power to act for another person (the principal) and have limited authority to make decisions about the principal's property, finances, investments, or medical care
- Guardianship – the legal authority to make certain financial and medical decisions for an elder, disabled adult, or a minor who cannot make sound decisions on their own
Depending on your needs and situation, you may want to develop an estate plan utilizing the above tools and other legal contracts as appropriate, such as healthcare directives. Our firm has significant experience handling a range of complex probate and estate planning matters, and we can help clarify the process for you. The future can be a difficult thing to talk about, but it is important for your loved ones that you develop a plan for them.
Schedule a free initial consultation with our lawyer at RDS Law Offices, LLC to discuss your legal options in Skokie.
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