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Illinois Probate Act 755 ILCS 5/15-1: Spouse’s Award

The purpose of preparing an estate plan, including a will, is to ensure that upon your death your property is transferred according to your wishes. In the absence of a will and other estate planning documents, the fate of your estate is in the hands of the state of Illinois. Illinois was a set of rules called intestate succession rules, that determine who gets your property in the absence of a will. However, even with a valid estate plan in place, your express wishes might not be carried out with respect to your children and your surviving spouse. Illinois law has special provisions that have a bearing on the property that your spouse and children are entitled to receive from your estate. To learn more about estate planning and the rules that may impact how your estate is distributed, including the requirements of Illinois Probate Act, section 15-1- Spouse’s award, contact a skilled Chicago estate administration attorney at the Law Offices of Stephen Bilkis & Associates.

Spouse’s Share

Under Illinois law, upon the death of a married individual, the surviving spouse has certain rights.

  • Initial support. The surviving spouse is entitled to money from the decedent’s estate equal to what the court deem as appropriate for 9 months of proper support. The amount is based on the condition of life that the surviving spouse is accustomed as well as well what is needed to support children of the decedent who lived with the surviving spouse at the time of the decedent’s death. This amount is exempted from being diminished due to a judgment, garnishment, or attachment.
  • Minimum award. Illinois Probate Act, section 15-1- Spouse’s award, generally, a surviving spouse is entitled to receive a “spouse’s award” of $20,000, plus another $10,000 for each child. The money must be paid in no more than 3 installments during the 9 month period following the decedent’s death. If the surviving spouse dies during this 9 month period before receiving the full away, the remaining award will be paid to his or her estate.
  • Allowance for adult child. If the decedent leaves an adult child who is likely to become dependent on the state for support, the surviving spouse shall receive at least $5000, but could be more based on the amount of support the decedent was proving as well as the condition of the estate. The money must be paid in no more than 3 installments during the 9 month period following the decedent’s death. If the surviving spouse dies or abandons an adult child before the award for the support of an adult child is paid in full, the amount unpaid shall be paid for the benefit of the adult child to such person as the court directs.
  • Spouse’s election. The decedent can prevent the surviving spouse from receiving a spouse’s award by expressly stating in his or her will that the provisions therein are in lieu of the award. However, as an experienced Chicago estate administration attorney can explain, the surviving spouse can renounce the will.
Child’s Award

If the decedent leaves behind a dependent minor or adult child who does not live with the surviving spouse, that child is eligible for a “child’s award” of $10,000 payable in the 9 month period following the decedent’s death. The court may award more based on what is reasonably needed for the child’s care.

If there is no surviving spouse, the dependent children are entitled to $10,000 each plus an additional $20,000 that must be divided equally among the children. At its discretion the court may award more.

Intestate Decedent

As an experienced estate administration attorney in Chicago will explain, the provisions of the Illinois Probate Act related to the spouse’s award are applicable regardless of whether or not the decedent left a will. The rules of intestate succession will impact how the remainder of the decedent’s probate estate will be distributed. The surviving spouse will get all of it if the decedent had no children. If the decedent had children and a surviving spouse, then the children will get 50% of the estate and the spouse will get the other 50%.

Related Statutory Provisions
  1. Child’s award: Illinois Probate Act, 755 ILCS 5/15-2
  2. Allowance, notice and review of award: Illinois Probate Act, 755 ILCS 5/15-3
  3. Selection: Illinois Probate Act, 755 ILCS 5/15-4
Illinois Probate Act, Section 15-1- Spouse’s Award

(a) The surviving spouse of a deceased resident of this State whose estate, whether testate or intestate, is administered in this State, shall be allowed as the surviving spouse's own property, exempt from the enforcement of a judgment, garnishment or attachment in the possession of the representative, a sum of money that the court deems reasonable for the proper support of the surviving spouse for the period of 9 months after the death of the decedent in a manner suited to the condition in life of the surviving spouse and to the condition of the estate and an additional sum of money that the court deems reasonable for the proper support, during that period, of minor children of the decedent who resided with the surviving spouse at the time of the decedent's death. The award may in no case be less than $20,000, together with an additional sum not less than $10,000 for each such child. The award shall be paid to the surviving spouse at such time or times, not exceeding 3 installments, as the court directs. If the surviving spouse dies before the award for his support is paid in full, the amount unpaid shall be paid to his estate. If the surviving spouse dies or abandons a child before the award for the support of a child is paid in full, the amount unpaid shall be paid for the benefit of the child to such person as the court directs.

(a-5) The surviving spouse of a deceased resident of this State whose estate, whether testate or intestate, is administered in this State, shall be allowed as the surviving spouse's own property, exempt from the enforcement of a judgment, garnishment, or attachment in the possession of the representative, for each adult child of the decedent who is likely to become a public charge and was financially dependent on the decedent and resided with the surviving spouse at the time of the decedent's death, a sum of money that the court deems reasonable, or agreed upon by the surviving spouse and representative of the decedent's estate or affiant under a small estate affidavit pursuant to Section 25-1, for the proper support of the adult child for the period of 9 months after the death of the decedent in a manner suited to the condition in life of the adult child of the decedent and to the condition of the estate. The award shall be at least $5,000 for each such adult child and shall otherwise be consistent with the financial support that the decedent was providing the adult child immediately prior to the decedent's death. The award shall be paid to the surviving spouse at such time or times, not exceeding 3 installments, as the court directs. If the surviving spouse dies or abandons an adult child before the award for the support of an adult child is paid in full, the amount unpaid shall be paid for the benefit of the adult child to such person as the court directs. Within 30 days of the surviving spouse or adult child receiving written notice of this potential award from the representative of the decedent's estate or from the affiant under a small estate affidavit pursuant to Section 25-1, the surviving spouse or the adult child, or the adult child's agent or guardian or other adult on behalf of the adult child, shall provide written notice to the representative or affiant asserting that the adult child was financially dependent on the decedent at the time of the decedent's death. Failure to provide written notice to the representative or affiant within 30 days after receiving notice from the representative or affiant shall be a bar to the right to receive the award. The notice by the representative may be combined with the notices given pursuant to Sections 6-21 and 8-1.

(b) The surviving spouse is entitled to the award unless the will of the decedent expressly provides that the provisions thereof for the surviving spouse are in lieu of the award and the surviving spouse does not renounce the will.

(c) The changes made by Public Act 96-968 apply to a decedent whose date of death is on or after July 2, 2010 (the effective date of Public Act 96-968). The changes to this Section made by this amendatory Act of the 100th General Assembly apply to a decedent whose date of death is on or after the effective date of this amendatory Act of the 100th General Assembly.

Contact the Law Offices of Stephen Bilkis & Associates

If a loved one recently passed away and you have questions about the spouse’s award or the child’s award, the experienced estate administration attorneys serving Chicago at the Law Offices of Stephen Bilkis & Associates can help. We have decades of experience variety of estate matters including creating estate plans and matter related to estate administration, , including the issues related to the requirements of Illinois Probate Act, section 15-1- Spouse’s ward. Contact an attorney in our office attorneys at 855-454-5529 to schedule a free, no obligation consultation regarding your case. We serve individuals throughout Chicago.

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