When a loved one passes away, our probate and trust administration attorneys Illinois knows that it’s often a very stressful and emotional time for the family and friends. We are one of the first phone calls made when one of our clients dies. We meet with the families and hold their hands through the process of either probate or trust administration. Anyone who has had a close friend or relative pass away has probably heard of probate, the process by which the estate of the deceased is inventoried and distributed according to state laws. While often maligned as a headache, in reality, probate offers a solid legal framework with advantages for those who have properly prepared prior to death and who have retained skilled legal counsel. Court oversight at every step, complete control of creditor claims, and the provision of a legal forum for complaints are important features of probate that are often overlooked. At its heart, probate is a process, and like any process, if one steps back, takes an overview of the procedures involved, breaks the whole into manageable parts, and works with qualified legal assistance, the end can usually be reached quickly, efficiently and economically.
“Probate” or the judicial process of officially “proving a will,” is a required legal court process that must be started in order to transfer the ownership of a loved one’s assets to heirs or beneficiaries, as spelled out in a will. Probate is also mandatory in the case of the absence of a will. Going through probate is a step-by-step court process that can take anywhere from nine months to two years. The process can become complicated due to several factors including bureaucratic delays, creditors’ claims, missing documents, unpaid taxes, or even genealogical questions. Each probate is very different and very individual. That’s why hiring a probate attorney is an absolute necessity. A qualified probate lawyer can efficiently work through court proceedings.
If your loved one had a trust (also referred to as a “living trust,”) the family must go through a process called trust administration. Trust administration is a process that does not normally involve the court but does have certain requirements for distributing your loved one’s wealth. The trust administration process is a much more streamlined and efficient process than probate, and can typically only take four months, but usually not more than a year. There is no court process involved with a trust administration.
If you are named as a successor trustee to your loved one’s trust, I can guide you through the process of distributing those assets legally and efficiently. If your loved one has a living trust and becomes incapable of handling his or her own affairs for the remainder of their lifetime, you may be named the successor trustee of the trust. With my assistance, I can easily put the trust administration process in place for you. The beauty of a trust is that the trustee does most of the work—not the attorney. I just provide the guidelines—sort of like dotting the “i’s” and crossing the “t’s” to get the trustee established in the role. The trust administration process is a much more private process than probate since no court is involved.
Determining if Your Need to Hire Illinois Probate and Trust Administration Attorneys
When it comes to legal matters, a surprising number of people choose to DIY their situation or handle it themselves. While certain things in life can be done without the help of an expert, there is a reason attorneys go to school for years in their specialization. When someone is creating a will, they are faced with hundreds of options for out-of-the-box-style wills where they can simply fill in a few fields and think they are all set. However, estate planning is not a simple area of the law and your probate attorney can be a huge asset to your estate planning needs. If you would like to learn more about how they can help, contact Bott & Associates, Ltd. now.
My loved one worked hard for their assets. Why do they need to go through a court?
When a person passes away, it is not as simple as them giving their assets to the people they want to give them to. There are certain laws and regulations that determine where things can go, which is why it is helpful if your loved one created a will or a trust. The executor of the estate will find that a probate lawyer can help guide them and the beneficiaries through the will during the probate process.
What are common things that probate lawyers do?
Probate lawyers may:
- Help the executor with many of their duties, including locating assets and helping pay any final debts or bills.
- Prepare the necessary paperwork for going to probate court.
- Work with appraisers to get a final value on the decedent’s assets and property.
- Transfer the assets from the will to the designated beneficiaries.
These are just a few of the things that a probate lawyer can help an executor with.
What if there is a dispute with the will?
During the probate process, it is possible there may be a dispute with the will. Perhaps one family member believed they were getting certain assets when they were actually left to another family member. When there are disputes with the will, your probate attorney can help to end the dispute. This can be particularly helpful as things get heated between family members.
Want to learn more about the probate process and how our probate and trust administration attorneys in Illinois can help you? Give Bott & Associates, Ltd. a call now.