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Illinois Probate Act 755 ILCS 5/24-3: Order of Distribution, Abatement and Contribution on Settlement of Estate

An executor or estate administrator is responsible for managing the estate of a decedent. In order to become an administrator, you petition the Probate Court. If you meet the statutory qualifications and the court approves your petition, it will issue the you a document called “letters testamentary” in the case of an executor or “letters of administration” in the case of an estate administrator. Being appointed administrator and receiving letters means that the petitioner has the legal authority to take steps to settle the decedent’s estate and ultimately distribute assets to the beneficiaries or heirs. The administrator must adhere to the legal requirements related to estate administration, including the rules related to asset distribution. If you have questions about the responsibilities of an executor or administrator, including the requirements of Illinois Probate Act, section 24-3- Order of distribution, abatement and contribution on settlement of estate, contact a skilled Chicago estate administration attorney at the Law Offices of Stephen Bilkis & Associates.

Estate Administration Process

While for beneficiaries and heirs, asset distribution may be the most important part of the estate distribution process, it is the last major step in the process. The process begins when the executor named in the will, if any, petitions the Probate Court to admit the decedent’s will to probate and to receive letters testamentary. Letters testamentary are a court issued document that indicates that a petitioner has the legal right to serve as executor. As a Chicago estate administration attorney will explain, if the decedent did not leave a will, the person responsible for the administration of the estate is referred to as an estate administrator and the letters that he or she would receive are called letters of administration. The steps in the administration process that the administrator handles and the Probate Court oversees include:

  • Inventorying estate assets. Taking an inventory of the estate assets and appraising them.
  • Safeguarding estate assets. Securing estate assets to prevent waste.
  • Paying debt. Paying estate debt and settling claims against the estate. Filing tax returns and paying taxes owed
  • Distributing assets. Transferring assets to beneficiaries and heirs.
Special Rules Related to Asset Distribution

Before the executor or administrator can distribute estate assets, he (or she) must pay claims against the estate that are valid and filed on time. If there are not sufficient assets to pay all claims, the administrator must pay claims based on the order of priority as stated in the Probate Act.

Abatement. There are instances in which after creditor claims have been paid the estate does not have sufficient funds to satisfy the distributions according to the terms of the will. As result, the distribution to the beneficiaries must be reduced. General legacies are distinguished from specific legacies. A specific legacy is a gift in a will of an identifiable object such as a particular vehicle or a particular piece of jewelry. A general legacy is a gift that is payable ou of the general assets of an estate. Under Illinois Probate Act, section 24-3- Order of distribution, abatement and contribution on settlement of estate, specific legacies must be paid pro rata before general legacies. Then general legacies are paid pro rata.

Contribution. Another rules that the administrator must follow is related contribution. If the administrator finds it necessary to sell property in the estate that was supposed to be a specific gift to a beneficiary, then the administrator must require the other beneficiaries to contribute to the beneficiary whose gift was sold in order to accomplish abatement and equalization. The Probate Court will determine the amount of the respective contributions and the manner in which they shall be paid. If you have questions related to contribution or any of the other rules related to asset distribution, discuss your concerns with an estate administration attorney in Chicago.

Related Statutory Provisions
  1. Duty to account: Illinois Probate Act, 755 ILCS 5/24-1
  2. Notice of accounting - effect: Illinois Probate Act, 755 ILCS 5/24-2
  3. Distribution before the expiration of the period when claims are barred: Illinois Probate Act, 755 ILCS 5/24-4
  4. Distribution on presumption of death - deposit in court or in depositaries : Illinois Probate Act, 755 ILCS 5/24-5
Illinois Probate Act, Section 24-3- Order of Distribution, Abatement and Contribution on Settlement of Estate

(a) The court may enforce the settlement of estates. On every settlement the court may order the representative of a decedent's estate to pay the claims against the estate, as provided in Section 18-13. If it appears that there are sufficient assets to pay all claims against the estate the court may order the representative to distribute the estate to the persons entitled thereto.

(b) Unless otherwise provided by the will, if the estate of a testator is insufficient to pay all legacies under his will, specific legacies shall be satisfied pro rata before general legacies, and general legacies shall be satisfied pro rata, without any priority in either case as between real and personal estate.

(c) If real or personal estate which has been specifically bequeathed is sold by the representative, the other legatees shall contribute to the legatee whose legacy has been sold, so as to accomplish abatement and equalization as provided in this Section. The court shall determine the amount of the respective contributions, the manner in which they shall be paid, and whether with or without security.

(d) On final distribution of an estate, payments made from principal or income shall be accounted for as provided in Sections 5 and 6 of the Principal and Income Act.

Contact the Law Offices of Stephen Bilkis & Associates

If you are an interested party in an estate matter and you have questions about or objections to the order of distribution of assets, it is important that you discuss the process with an experienced estate administration attorney serving Chicago who understands the special rules related to estate distribution, including the requirements of the Illinois Probate Act, section 24-3- Order of distribution, abatement and contribution on settlement of estate. The attorneys at the Law Offices of Stephen Bilkis & Associates have years of experience successfully representing clients in matters related to estate administration, estate litigation, and other estate matters. 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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