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Illinois Probate Act 755 ILCS 5/15-4: Selection

Under the Illinois Probate Act, the surviving spouse and children of a decedent have the right to payment from the estate of decedent within the first 9 months after the death of the decedent. Generally, this is the case regardless of whether or not the decedent left a will. The purpose of these provisions is to make sure that the spouse and children who may have been dependent on the decedent for support, would be cared for during the estate administration process before the estate is settled and assets are distributed to the decedent’s beneficiaries or heirs. While the spouse and children are entitled to awards from the estate, they have a choice as to how to what form the award is to take. To learn more about the spouse’s award and the child’s award, including the requirements of Illinois Probate Act, section 15-4- Selection, contact a skilled Chicago estate lawyer 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. 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—such as a child with a disability, the surviving spouse shall receive at least $5000. The money must be paid in no more than 3 installments during the 9 month period following the death of the decedent. If the surviving spouse dies or abandons an adult child before the award has been paid in full, the amount unpaid will be paid for the benefit of the adult child to such person as the court directs, such as the child’s guardian, if any.
  • 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 attorney can explain, the spouse also has the right to renounce the decedent’s will. As a result, he or she would be entitled to the spouse’s award.
Spouse’s Selection

Under Illinois Probate Act, section 15-4- Selection, the surviving spouse has a choice as to who to receive his (or her) spousal award. He can choose to receive the amount of the award in cash. The other option is to receive with a part of it or all of it in the form of property from the decedent’s estate. The property that can be given as part of the spousal award must only be property that has not been specifically bequeathed.

The surviving spouse must make the choice in writing within 30 days after being notified in writing of the allowance of the award. If the surviving spouse dies before the 30 day period expires, the representative of his or estate may make the selection for the benefit of the estate.

As an experienced estate attorney in Chicago will explain, in cases where the defendant has children, but no surviving spouse, the children of the decedent have the same right of selection of property as the surviving spouse would have.

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

(a) The surviving spouse is entitled to receive the amount of the award in money or, at the election of the surviving spouse, to accept payment thereof in whole or in part in goods and chattels of the decedent not specifically bequeathed, at their appraised value. The selection shall be made in writing by the surviving spouse within 30 days after he is notified in writing of the allowance of the award and shall be filed in the court. If the surviving spouse dies before the expiration of the time within which he may make the selection, the representative of his estate may make the selection for the benefit of the estate.

(b) If the decedent leaves no surviving spouse, the children of the decedent have the same right of selection of goods and chattels as the surviving spouse under this Section. The selection shall be made and filed in the same manner as the surviving spouse's selection.

(c) If a surviving spouse or child entitled to make a selection is a ward his representative may make the selection on his behalf.

Contact the Law Offices of Stephen Bilkis & Associates

The Illinois Probate Act has provisions designed to protect surviving spouses and children. Whether you are contemplating drafting a will and other estate documents, or your loved one passed away and you are the surviving spouse or child, it is important that you understand the impact of the requirements of Illinois Probate Act, section 15-4- Selection. 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 related to estate administration, will drafting, and estate planning. Contact an attorney in our office at 855-454-5529 to schedule a free, no obligation consultation regarding your case. We serve individuals throughout Chicago.

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