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Illinois Probate Act 755 ILCS 5/2-1: Descent and Distribution

When a loved one passes away, family and friends may wonder what will happen to the decedent’s property. The property of a decedent is referred to as that person’s estate. Typically the property in an estate is distributed to the decedent’s beneficiaries as stated in his (or her) will during probate. However, if the decedent did not make a will, then the property goes to the decedent’s legal heirs based on Illinois’s intestate succession rules. Under the Illinois Probate Act, there are very specific rules about which of a decedent’s relatives have the right to inherit a deceased relative’s property. If you are concerned about how a loved one’s estate will be distributed, contact an experienced Chicago intestate succession lawyer at the Law Offices of Stephen Bilkis & Associates who will explain what the Illinois Probate Act requires when someone passes away without leaving a will.

Estate Administration

Estate administration is the process during which the affairs of a decedent are settled and his assets are distributed. It is very similar to probate, which occurs when a decedent passes away testate, meaning with a valid will.

Estate administration is managed by an estate administrator appointed by the probate court. The probate court judge oversees the entire process. The process includes the estate administrator taking control of the estate property. This may include personal property such as vehicles, clothing, jewelry, and furniture. It may also include financial property such as bank accounts and investment, as well as real estate such as the family home. The administrator must then use estate funds to pay debt owed by the estate such as unpaid bills left by the decedent. Ultimately, the administrator will distribute any assets remaining in the estate after debts have been paid to the decedents based on the rules of intestate succession as stated in the Illinois Probate Act, Article II, Descent and Distribution.

Estate Distribution Under Intestate Succession

As a Chicago intestate succession lawyer will explain, if a loved one passes away in Chicago without having left a will, the property will go to specific relatives of the deceased based on a priority set forth in the descent and distribution provisions of the Illinois Probate Act.

  • Surviving spouse, no children. The surviving spouse is entitled to receive 100% of the decedent’s property.
  • Surviving spouse, and children. The surviving spouse is entitled to receive 50% of the decedent’s property, and the children would be entitled to receive the other 50% in equal shares per stirpes. Per stirpes means that if a child has passed away, then the child’s children would receive the deceased’s share.
  • Children, no surviving spouse. The children would receive 100% of the estate, in equal shares, per stirpes.
  • No surviving spouse, no children or descendants, but parents and siblings. The estate will be divided equally among the parents and siblings. If one parent is deceased, then the surviving parent will receive a double share of the estate.
Example

Joanne passed away without a will. He husband predeceased her. Joanne left 2 children: Ann and Jack. A third child, Sophia predeceased Joanne, and left 3 children: Lori, Mack, and Lilly. Based on the descent and distribution provisions of the Probate Act, the estate administrator distributed Joanne’s property as follows. Ann received 33.3%. Jack received 33.3%. Lori, Mack, and Lilly each received 11.1%- which was Sophia’s share.

Absence of Heirs

It is incumbent upon the administrator to make an effort to find heirs of the decedent. However, if the administrator is unable to ascertain the existence of a blood relative, then, as an intestate succession attorney in Chicago will explain, the estate may end up in the hands of the state of Illinois through a process called escheat.

Related Statutory Provisions

  1. Children born out of wedlock: Illinois Probate Act, 755 ILCS 5/2-2
  2. Posthumous child: Illinois Probate Act, 755 ILCS 5/2-3
  3. Adopted child: Illinois Probate Act, 755 ILCS 5/2-4
Illinois Probate Act, Section 2-1- Descent and Distribution

Sec. 2-1. Rules of descent and distribution. The intestate real and personal estate of a resident decedent and the intestate real estate in this State of a nonresident decedent, after all just claims against his estate are fully paid, descends and shall be distributed as follows:

  1. (a) If there is a surviving spouse and also a descendant of the decedent: 1/2 of the entire estate to the surviving spouse and 1/2 to the decedent's descendants per stirpes.
  2. (b) If there is no surviving spouse but a descendant of the decedent: the entire estate to the decedent's descendants per stirpes.
  3. (c) If there is a surviving spouse but no descendant of the decedent: the entire estate to the surviving spouse.
  4. (d) If there is no surviving spouse or descendant but a parent, brother, sister or descendant of a brother or sister of the decedent: the entire estate to the parents, brothers and sisters of the decedent in equal parts, allowing to the surviving parent if one is dead a double portion and to the descendants of a deceased brother or sister per stirpes the portion which the deceased brother or sister would have taken if living.
  5. (e) If there is no surviving spouse, descendant, parent, brother, sister or descendant of a brother or sister of the decedent but a grandparent or descendant of a grandparent of the decedent: (1) 1/2 of the entire estate to the decedent's maternal grandparents in equal parts or to the survivor of them, or if there is none surviving, to their descendants per stirpes, and (2) 1/2 of the entire estate to the decedent's paternal grandparents in equal parts or to the survivor of them, or if there is none surviving, to their descendants per stirpes. If there is no surviving paternal grandparent or descendant of a paternal grandparent, but a maternal grandparent or descendant of a maternal grandparent of the decedent: the entire estate to the decedent's maternal grandparents in equal parts or to the survivor of them, or if there is none surviving, to their descendants per stirpes. If there is no surviving maternal grandparent or descendant of a maternal grandparent, but a paternal grandparent or descendant of a paternal grandparent of the decedent: the entire estate to the decedent's paternal grandparents in equal parts or to the survivor of them, or if there is none surviving, to their descendants per stirpes.
  6. (f) If there is no surviving spouse, descendant, parent, brother, sister, descendant of a brother or sister or grandparent or descendant of a grandparent of the decedent: (1) 1/2 of the entire estate to the decedent's maternal great-grandparents in equal parts or to the survivor of them, or if there is none surviving, to their descendants per stirpes, and (2) 1/2 of the entire estate to the decedent's paternal great-grandparents in equal parts or to the survivor of them, or if there is none surviving, to their descendants per stirpes. If there is no surviving paternal great-grandparent or descendant of a paternal great-grandparent, but a maternal great-grandparent or descendant of a maternal great-grandparent of the decedent: the entire estate to the decedent's maternal great-grandparents in equal parts or to the survivor of them, or if there is none surviving, to their descendants per stirpes. If there is no surviving maternal great-grandparent or descendant of a maternal great-grandparent, but a paternal great-grandparent or descendant of a paternal great-grandparent of the decedent: the entire estate to the decedent's paternal great-grandparents in equal parts or to the survivor of them, or if there is none surviving, to their descendants per stirpes.
  7. (g) If there is no surviving spouse, descendant, parent, brother, sister, descendant of a brother or sister, grandparent, descendant of a grandparent, great-grandparent or descendant of a great-grandparent of the decedent: the entire estate in equal parts to the nearest kindred of the decedent in equal degree (computing by the rules of the civil law) and without representation.
  8. (h) If there is no surviving spouse and no known kindred of the decedent: the real estate escheats to the county in which it is located; the personal estate physically located within this State and the personal estate physically located or held outside this State which is the subject of ancillary administration of an estate being administered within this State escheats to the county of which the decedent was a resident, or, if the decedent was not a resident of this State, to the county in which it is located; all other personal property of the decedent of every class and character, wherever situate, or the proceeds thereof, shall escheat to this State and be delivered to the State Treasurer pursuant to the Revised Uniform Unclaimed Property Act.
  9. In no case is there any distinction between the kindred of the whole and the half blood.
Contact the Law Offices of Stephen Bilkis & Associates

The only way to avoid the problems associated with intestacy is to work closely with an intestate succession attorney serving Chicago, to make a will and to execute it in a manner that is consistent with Illinois law. The experienced attorneys at the Law Offices of Stephen Bilkis & Associates have the skill, knowledge and resources to help. Contact us at 855-454-5529 to schedule a free, no obligation consultation regarding your case. We serve individuals throughout Chicago.

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