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Probate litigation: What if someone dies without a will?

Every Illinois resident will basically die in one of two ways, legally speaking. Either a person dies testate (meaning, he or she left a last will and testament) or intestate (meaning, there is no will). The latter can spark complications  for loved ones regarding probate litigation.

When an adult dies without having executed a last will and testament, there are hearings held in a probate court that has jurisdiction over the particular estate. The purpose of these hearings is so the judge in question can determine how to distribute the decedent’s assets. If a valid will does exist, the estate owner likely designated someone to act as executor. Anyone considering writing an estate plan may wish to discuss potential designations such as executor or power of attorney with those so chosen before finalizing a particular plan to make sure they understand what they’re being asked to do and agree to it.

Regarding intestate proceedings, if there are assets to be distributed, someone must file a petition to become administrator of the estate. The duties carried out under this role are much the same as the responsibilities of an executor. Intestacy laws vary by state.

In addition to collecting assets and also seeking an estate valuation,  any and all legal issues regarding debts, taxes or any lawsuits that have been filed against the estate must be resolved. The roles of executor and administrator are important and often, stressful. Seeking consultation with an experienced Illinois probate litigation attorney is a good idea when guidance and support are needed regarding such matters.