When a person dies, distributing assets from their estate is one of the many issues that the survivors must sort out. In Illinois, probate is required for dividing an estate if the deceased person solely owned properties that have a total value of more than $100,000. The probate process should go smoothly if the person left a detailed last will and testament or put their assets in a trust. However, the person may have died without an estate plan or had a plan that was out-of-date or vague in its instructions. When an estate plan leaves unanswered questions, the beneficiaries must use probate to fairly divide properties or attempt to determine what the deceased person intended.
Problems with an Estate Plan
Amid the grief of losing a loved one, it can be stressful to learn that there are flaws with the estate plan that make it difficult to determine how to divide their assets. The person reviewing the estate plan may discover that it:
- Leaves properties to someone who is deceased
- Had not been updated since the deceased person divorced or remarried
- Does not include significant assets that need to be distributed
- Is invalid for reasons such as lacking a witness
You can work through some problems in an estate plan while still salvaging the rest of the plan. For instance, a property that was instructed to go to a deceased spouse may be divided among their children instead.
If there is no will or trust to follow, an Illinois probate court will distribute the deceased person’s assets according to the intestate succession law:
- A spouse will receive everything if the person had no children.
- The children will receive everything if there is no spouse.
- If there are a spouse and children, half of the assets will go to the spouse and the other half will be divided among the children.
- If there is no surviving spouse or child, the assets will go to the next closest relatives, such as grandchildren, parents, or siblings.
- The state will claim the assets only if no living relative can be found, including nieces, nephews, and cousins.
Contact a McHenry County Probate Lawyer
When you have questions about your loved one’s estate plan, you need someone who can provide answers while respecting the sensitive nature of the issue. A Crystal Lake, Illinois, probate attorney at Botto Gilbert Lancaster, P.C., can help you solve problems regarding how to fairly distribute your loved one’s assets. Schedule a free consultation by calling 815-338-3838.