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Illinois Probate Act 755 ILCS 5/24-7: When Estate Does not Exceed Surviving Spouse's Award

The purpose of preparing an estate plan, including a will, is to ensure that upon your death your property is transferred according to your wishes. A will allows you to be very specific and selective about who inherits your property and who does not. However, under Illinois law, there are things that you cannot do in your will. One of those things is that you cannot disinherit your spouse as Illinois law has special provisions that ensure that the spouse receives a portion of the estate. To learn more about the rules that impact what a surviving spouse is entitled to, including the requirements of Illinois Probate Act, section 24-7- When estate does not exceed surviving spouse's award, contact a skilled Chicago estate administration attorney at the Law Offices of Stephen Bilkis & Associates who can explain the nuances of the Illinois Probate Act.

Spouse’s Award

Under Illinois law when a married person passes away, his or her surviving spouse is entitled to receive a distribution to provide support for 9 months. This is called the “spouse’s award.” The amount of the distribution will be determined by the court on a case by case basis. The court will consider the value of the estate, what is needed to support children, if any, and the lifestyle to which the surviving spouse is accustomed. The spouse’s award is exempt from being diminished due to a judgment, garnishment, or attachment. Under Illinois Probate Act, section 15-1, the minimum distribution to which a spouse is entitled to receive is $20,000, plus another $10,000 for each child.

When Estate Does not Exceed Surviving Spouse's Award

The spouse’s award is considered one of the highest priority claims against an estate. This means, that it must be paid before distributions are made from the estate and before most other claims are paid. The only claim that has a higher priority are claims for the decedent’s funeral and burial expenses.

If after the payment of the decedent’s funeral expenses it appears that the value of the estate is less than the amount of the surviving spouse's award, the entire estate will be distributed to the surviving spouse. As a skilled Chicago estate administration attorney will explain, there is a similar rule that applies to the child’s award.

Other Rules Related to an Insufficient Estate

In addition to the rules that related to a spouse’s award or a child’s award, there are additional rules that apply to cases where the value of the assets in an estate are insufficient to cover gifts the testator made in his or her will.

The probate court must apply the rules of abatement when an estate is insufficient. Abatement is a proportional reduction of the gifts in a will because of insufficient funds. Under Illinois law 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. To learn more about abatement, contact an experienced estate administration attorney in Chicago.

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
  4. Selection: Illinois Probate Act, 755 ILCS 5/15-4
Illinois Probate Act, Section 24-7- When Estate Does not Exceed Surviving Spouse's Award

When estate does not exceed surviving spouse's award.) If it appears to the court that the value of the real and personal estate of a decedent after payment of 1st class claims does not exceed the amount of the surviving spouse's or child's award, or both, the court shall order the representative to deliver the personal estate to the person entitled to the award and discharge the representative. The order operates to vest the person entitled to the award with complete title to the personal estate. The person entitled to the award is liable only for unpaid 1st class claims against the estate to the extent of the personal estate so delivered to that person.

Contact the Law Offices of Stephen Bilkis & Associates

If a loved one recently passed away and you have questions about the spouse’s award, the experienced estate administration attorneys serving Chicago at the Law Offices of Stephen Bilkis & Associates can help. We have decades of experience representing clients in matters related to settling estates and understand the nuances of Illinois estate law including the requirements of the Illinois Probate Act, section 24-7- When estate does not exceed surviving spouse'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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