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Illinois Probate Act 755 ILCS 5/15-2: Child’s Award

One of the main reasons to contact an experienced Chicago estate attorney is to help you design an estate plan so that upon your death your property will be disposed of according to your wishes. For example, with last will and testament you can be very clear as to which family members, friends, and institutions will share in your estate. You can also make it very clear as to which relatives you choose to disinherit. While estate planning allows you to retain control over what happens to your property upon your death, Illinois law makes specific provisions to make sure children and surviving spouses are cared for immediately following the death of a decedent. These provisions apply regardless of whether or not the decedent left a will or any other estate documents. To learn more about the rule related to the child’s award as described in Illinois Probate Act, section 15-2- Child’s award, contact a skilled Chicago estate attorney at the Law Offices of Stephen Bilkis & Associates.

Child’s Award

Under Illinois Probate Act, section 15-2- Child’s award if the decedent passes away, leaving minor children or adult children do not live with the surviving spouse, the children are each eligible for a “child’s award” of $10,000 from the estate. The award must be paid to the children within the 9 month period immediately after the decedent’s death. The court has the discretion to award more based on what is reasonably needed for the child’s care. On the other hand, if the decedent does not leave a surviving spouse, but does leave dependent children, the dependent children are entitled to $10,000 each. Furthermore, another lump sum of $20,000 shall be divided equally among all of the children. At its discretion the court may award more.

Spouse’s Share

Under Illinois law, upon the death of a married individual, the surviving spouse has certain rights. For example, the surviving spouse is entitled to a distribution from the decedent’s estate equal to what the court deems as appropriate for 9 months of proper support. The amount is based on the lifestyle that the surviving spouse is accustomed, the status of the estate, and if there are children, what is necessary to care for the children. The spouse’s award is exempted from being diminished due to a judgment, garnishment, or attachment. This allows the spouse to have access to funds from the estate while the estate is going through the administration process.

The minimum award to which the surviving spouse is entitled is $20,000, plus another $10,000 for each child. The money must be paid from the estate to the surviving spouse in no more than 3 installments during the 9 month period immediately following the decedent’s death. If the surviving spouse dies during this 9 month period without having received the full award, the remaining amount will be paid to his or her estate.

The Probate Act also takes into consideration adult children of decedents who are likely to become dependent on the state for support. If the decedent leaves such a child, 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. This award must also be paid from the estate 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.

The statute does allow the decedent to prevent the surviving spouse from receiving a spouse’s award through careful planning If the decedent in his or her will expressly state that the provisions in the will are in lieu of the award, then the spouse would not be entitled to the statutory spouse’s award.

Intestate Provisions

As an experienced estate attorney in Chicago will explain, the provisions of 15 o the Probate Act related to the spouse and child awards 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. In the absence of a will, the surviving spouse will get the entire of the estate if the decedent had no children. If the decedent had children as well as a surviving spouse, then the children will get 50% of the estate and the spouse will get the other 50%.

Related Statutory Provisions
  1. Spouse’s award: Illinois Probate Act, 755 ILCS 5/15-1
  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 15-2- Child’s Award

(a) If a minor child of the decedent does not reside with the surviving spouse of the decedent at the time of the decedent's death, there shall be allowed to that child, 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 child for the period of 9 months after the death of the decedent, in a manner suited to the condition in life of the minor child and to the condition of the estate. The award may in no case be less than $10,000 and shall be paid for the benefit of the child to such person as the court directs.

(b) If a deceased resident of this State leaves no surviving spouse, there shall be allowed to all children of the decedent who were minors at the date of death, 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 those children for the period of 9 months after the death of the decedent in a manner suited to the condition in life of those children and to the condition of the estate. The award may in no case be less than $10,000 for each of those children, together with an additional sum not less than $20,000 that shall be divided equally among those children or apportioned as the court directs and that shall be paid for the benefit of any of those children to any person that the court directs.

(b-5) If an adult child of the decedent is likely to become a public charge and was financially dependent on the decedent at the time of the decedent's death, and if the adult child of the decedent did not reside with the surviving spouse of the decedent at the time of the decedent's death, there shall be allowed to that adult child, 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, 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 of life of the adult child and to the condition of the estate. The award shall be at least $5,000 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 for the benefit of the adult child to such person as the court or affiant under a small estate affidavit pursuant to Section 25-1 directs. Within 30 days after 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 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 and that the adult child did not reside with the surviving spouse at the time of the decedent's death. Failure to provide such 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.

(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

As you create your will, trust, and other estate documents, it is important to understand the statutory requirements related to estate administration, as they may impact some of your planning decisions. The experienced estate attorneys serving Chicago at the Law Offices of Stephen Bilkis & Associates have years of experience representing clients in estate matters, including matters relating to estate administration, spousal and child awards, and intestate succesion. We are here to ensure that you understand what Illinois law requires, including the requirements of Illinois Probate Act, section 15-2- Child’s award. 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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