When an Illinois resident dies, his or her property may be transferred through a court process. Probate litigation can take a long time, which is why many people prepare estate plans to help their loved one avoid it. Most people who want to avoid probate specifically want to avoid the fees commonly associated with it.
If a last will and testament has been signed prior to a decedent’s passing, the probate court will require that its authenticity be formally established. If an estate owner dies without having executed a last will , his or her estate becomes intestate, and a probate court judge will order the distribution of the decedent’s property according to the state’s laws of intestacy. A probate process can occur without contest or a potential heir or other party might contest it, especially if he or she feels entitled to a larger share of assets than the court says he or she is getting.
For the probate process to begin, all property of the decedent must first be collected. If the estate owes taxes, debts or another type of claim, they must be paid. If there are any disputes regarding the estate, they must be resolved; only then final distribution and transfer of property take place. Even if an executor has been designated, it is possible that certain circumstances might warrant an override of a decedent’s signed wishes by a probate judge.
Anyone interested in learning more about probate litigation and how to avoid it may request a meeting with an attorney well-versed in estate planning and administration. Any heir or beneficiary who believes he or she has grounds to contest a probate process may want to seek support from an attorney before heading to court. Every case is unique and many issues can be quite complex, which is why it is always best to rely on experienced legal representation to help achieve the most favorable outcome possible.