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DuPage County estate administration lawyersIf you have started creating your own estate plans or you have recently lost a loved one, you may have heard the term “probate.” This term is used to refer to the legal proceedings which transfers a deceased individual’s assets to heirs. If the deceased person, or decedent, has signed a will before he or she died, the probate courts determine whether or not the will is enforceable and oversee the distribution of the decedents’ assets. If a decedent does not have a will or the will is not enforceable, the probate process is much more involved. Because it can often be time-consuming and expensive, many people try to avoid probate through careful estate planning.

What Happens During Probate?

The probate process differs from estate to estate depending on several factors. If the decedent had a will, the judge will ensure that the will meets the criteria required by Illinois probate law. Wills must be written and signed by the deceased person. If evidence exists to suggest that the deceased person wrote their will under undue influence or that the will is fraudulent in some way, the will may be invalidated.

If the decedent had identified an executor in their estate plans, the judge will assign this person several responsibilities. The executor must distribute the decedent’s assets according to the will, notify the decedent’s creditors of the decedent’s death, pay the decedent’s final bills, and file income taxes on their behalf. Generally, the executor role falls to the decedent’s next of kin if there was no prior determination regarding this important responsibility.

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Lombard probate lawyersThe term “probate” refers to the legal proceedings which deal with a deceased person’s assets and debts. The probate courts are tasked with determining the validly of the decedent’s will, if he or she has one. If he or she did not have a will, the court will need to have much more involvement in the estate administration. There is a bit of confusion about probate, and many people are not sure what exactly it is. Read on to learn the answer to the most frequently asked questions regarding the probate process.

What Happens During Probate?

There are several things which typically happen during probate. If the decedent had created a will before he or she died, the judge will verify that it is a valid will. A will can be invalidated or thrown out if it is not signed by the testator (deceased person) and at least two witnesses, was forged, or if the testator created the will under undue influence. A will can also be invalidated if a newer will is discovered. Next, the judge will appoint an executor responsible for managing the estate. If the decedent had a will, the judge will appoint the individual named in the will. If there is no valid will, the judge will often appoint the next of kin as the executor. The executor is responsible for paying the deceased person’s final bills, notifying creditors of the decedent’s death, filing income taxes on behalf of the decedent, distributing assets to heirs according to the will, and more.

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