You might be trying to find out what probate is? You may be wondering: Do I need to go to probate court? What happens if I don’t go see an attorney? Can I go to probate court myself? How long does probate court take?

Probate is the court administered process of settling a decedent’s estate. In other words, it is the process in which a deceased person’s assets are distributed, liabilities addressed, and causes of action managed.

Not everyone goes through the probate process. In Illinois if the deceased person did not have assets worth $100,000 or more and they did not have real property (like land, a house, condo, townhome, etc.) you do not need to go through the probate court to distribute and manager the assets of the deceased, however the asset must still be managed through a Small Estate Affidavit.

Who goes through the probate process? If the deceased person died with a will, then the Executor (who is named in the Will) would go through the probate process on behalf of the deceased person’s estate. If you die without a Will or your Will does not name an Executor, then the court will appoint an administrator, often times a spouse or other close family member. The Executor, or in the event no Will exists, the party seeking to be named an administrator, petitions the probate court for letters of administration.

Do I have to hire an attorney in probate court? Yes. Neither an executor nor administrator can probate an estate without an attorney. Because an executor or administrator is representing the estate of the decease person, a type of legal entity, non-lawyers are not permitted to represent the legal needs of others.

How long does probate last? It depends. The length of the probate process will depend on many different factors. Probate length will vary based upon the amount of the assets, the type of assets, the location of assets, the difficulty in locating assets, the marketability of the real property, how well or poorly the heirs get along and agree, the nature of any liabilities against the estate, and whether any challenges to the Will or contests arise. Many different factors influence the length of probate proceedings.

While probate requires an attorney and can also be time consuming and lengthy, selecting the right attorney will make the process as smooth as possible. Our firm practices in probate law in Cook County, DuPage County, Kane County and McHenry County. While we are located in Schaumburg, we handle cases from Hoffman Estates, Streamwood, Bartlett, Hanover Park, Palatine, Barrington, and many other suburbs and Chicago. The probate lawyers at Kelley, Kelley & Kelley can assist you in determining whether you need to probate an estate, how to execute a small estate affidavit and can help in estate planning to avoid probate.