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Illinois Probate Act 755 ILCS 5/24-1: Duty to Account

A representative is an individual appointed by the Probate Court to care for the estate of another person. For example, an executor or estate administrator is responsible for managing the estate of a decedent while a guardian is responsible for caring for the estate of a ward. In order to be appointed representative, you must meet the minimum qualifications, and you must submit a petition to the Probate Court. If the court determines that you qualify, it will issue you a document called “letters.” The duties and responsibilities of a representative are many, including the duty to account. If you have questions about the job of a representative, including the requirements of Illinois Probate Act, section 24-1- Duty to account, contact a skilled Chicago estate administration attorney at the Law Offices of Stephen Bilkis & Associates.

Estate Administration Process

The process of estate administration begins when a petitioner requests to be appointed executor or administrator, and the Probate Court issues that person letters. With letters in hand, the administrator has the authority to move forward with the steps required to settle the decedent’s estate. The steps include:

  • Taking an inventory of the estate assets and appraising them
  • Securing estate assets
  • Receiving income to the estate
  • Paying estate debts and settling claims against the estate
  • Filing tax returns and paying taxes owed
  • Distributing assets to beneficiaries and heirs
Accounting

The estate accounting focuses on 4 issues: assets, income, disbursements, and distributions.

Assets. Among the first tasks of an administrator is to take a complete inventory of all of the assets in the decedent’s estate. The administrator must also determine the fair market value of the each of the assets at the time of the decedent’s death. If necessary, the administrator may pay a professional a reasonable fee to appraise certain assets. This may be necessary for unusual assets or collectibles. If circumstances required that the administrator sell any assets, the administrator must keep records of the sale price and any difference between the fair market value and the sale price. The court may require the administrator to account for any difference between the sale price and fair market value, particularly if the property sold below its appraised value.

Income. Another job of the executor is to collect any income due to the decedent or to the estate. This may include rents due from properties owned by the decedent, tax refunds, or outstanding personal loans.

Disbursements. Disbursements include monies that are paid out for expenses and bills. Such expenditures must be carefully documented. The administrator must keep receipts and any other documentation for the date, amount, and purpose of the disbursement. As an experienced Chicago estate administration lawyer will explain, the administrator must be mindful of rules related to which expenses take precedence over others. For example, funeral and burial expenses for the decedent take top priority and must be paid first before other bills are paid.

Distributions. The final piece to an accounting includes details related to distributions to beneficiaries and heirs. If the decedent left a will, then the assets should be distributed based on the terms in the will. Otherwise, the estate will be distributed on the decedent’s heirs according to the rules of intestate succession. If the estate consists of cash, the administrator needs only to write checks to the distributees from the estate checking account. If the estate includes other types of property, the administrator may need to transfer title to distributees. In other cases the administrator may find it necessary to sell property and distribute the proceeds. Regardless of what is distributed, the administrator must keep meticulous records.

Timing of Accounting

Under Illinois Probate Act, section 24-1- Duty to account, the administrator must filed the accounting with the Probate Court within 60 days after the expiration of 12 months after the issuance of letters. The court may extend the deadline if it sees fit. Interested parties have the right to object to the accounting. It is not unusual for the Probate Court to reject accounting, requiring the administrator to make adjustments. However, with the help of an experienced estate administration attorney in Chicago, you can avoid submitting an accounting with errors that may result in the court rejecting the accounting.

Related Statutory Provisions
  1. Notice of accounting - effect: Illinois Probate Act, 755 ILCS 5/24-2
  2. Order of distribution, abatement and contribution on settlement of estate: Illinois Probate Act, 755 ILCS 5/24-3
  3. Distribution before the expiration of the period when claims are barred: Illinois Probate Act, 755 ILCS 5/24-4
Illinois Probate Act, Section 24-1- Duty to Account

(a) Except as provided in subsection (b), within 60 days after the expiration of 12 months after the issuance of letters or within such further time as the court allows and thereafter whenever required by the court until the administration is completed, and if the letters are revoked, within such time as the court directs, every representative of a decedent's estate shall prepare and present a verified account of his administration to the court which issued his letters. The account shall state the receipts and disbursements of the representative since his last accounting and all real and personal estate which is on hand and shall be accompanied by such evidence of the disbursements as the court may require.

(b) If written consents of all interested persons are filed in the court, the court may excuse the preparation and presentation of an account, subject to such conditions as the court deems appropriate.

Contact the Law Offices of Stephen Bilkis & Associates

If you are an executor, administrator, or interested party in an estate matter related to the duties of the administrator, it is important that you discuss your concerns with an experienced estate administration attorney serving Chicago who understands the administrator’s duties and responsibilities, including the requirements of the Illinois Probate Act, section 24-1- Duty to account. The attorneys at the Law Offices of Stephen Bilkis & Associates have years of experience successfully representing clients in matters related to estate administration, executor’s accounting, executor’s fees, and other estate matters. 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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