Probate and Estate Planning Lawyer in Hoffman Estates

Experienced Probate Attorney in Cook County and Kane County, Illinois

Probate and Estate Planning Lawyer in Hoffman EstatesProbate is a legal process involving the administration and management of estates for those who have died or are disabled. The probate court has a duty to assign a responsible party for facilitating the deceased’s property and assets. When a will exists, this individual is referred to as the executor; when the court makes this decision, they are known as an administrator. Either way, this person maybe referred to as a “personal representative.”

In Cook County, the Illinois Circuit Court has a probate division in Chicago. In Kane County, the 16th Circuit Judicial District has a Civil Division which conducts probate. Probate has traditionally had a reputation as being cumbersome and overly difficult; however, the process may be eased, with assistance from a local attorney with significant probate experience. The Gierach Law Firm has assisted clients in Hoffman Estates and the surrounding communities for over 25 years in estate-related matters such as probate, wills, trusts, and tax planning.

How Wills Relate to Probate

Wills are written documents outlining the allocation of a person’s property when they die. Wills do not usually address property disposition of assets in joint tenancy, those classified as payable to an assigned beneficiary, or that are part of a trust. Wills identify someone as the executor and include a detailed collection of instructions. A will is essentially dormant, or inactive, until the individual has passed. A will is initially subjected to the probate process in order to verify its legitimacy.

Proving a Will’s Validity

An individual who dies without a will in place is said to have died intestate, and distribution is done in accordance with state law. Generally, a will is required to meet some legal criteria based on IL law. The state will usually accept wills formed in another state as being valid. The key requirements are as follows:

  • The document must be in writing
  • Must be signed by the individual
  • Must be signed by two witnesses who were present
  • The individual must be at least 18 years of age, and be deemed as competent to be mindful of the terms of the document.

Locating Heirs

After an individual dies, the named executor is to file the will with the local court within 30 days. After court submission, Letters of Office or Letters Testamentary are issued and transmitted to those with a relationship to the estate, and also confirms the appointment of the executor. The executor must notify heirs, and further publish notices in local news sources, also known as “claim publications.” All interested parties may review the accounting of the details, which includes a summary and inventory of the estate’s contents.

Income Taxes

An aspect of the financial duties of the executor is that they must finalize matters relating to taxes. For income taxes, the executor ensures that the decedent’s last tax return is filed. This should account for income activity that occurred during the process of administering the estate.

Estate Taxes

Estate taxes may apply both at the state and federal level. In 2016, the federal estate and gift tax exemption threshold was roughly $5.4 million, while Illinois’ exemption was approximately $4 million. Those who are married may derive a benefit which allows the exemption amount to double, that accounts for each party.

Navigating the many aspects of probate law should be done with support from an accomplished attorney. Contact The Gierach Law Firm’s office in Hoffman Estates at 630-756-1160 for a personal consultation. You will benefit from their experience in probate law and should consider establishing an overall estate plan, which is tailored to your individual circumstances.