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Illinois Probate Act 755 ILCS 5/24-9: Reopening Estate

Estate administration is the process of settling the affairs of a decedent. The process is managed by an administrator appointed by the Probate Court. There are several steps involved in the process. At the end, the assets that remain in the estate are transferred to the decedent’s heirs or beneficiaries. Once the estate is void of assets, the estate is closed. However, after an estate is closed, circumstances may require that it be reopened. If you have questions about the estate administration process, including the requirements of Illinois Probate Act, section 11-9- Reopening estate, contact a skilled Chicago estate administration attorney at the Law Offices of Stephen Bilkis & Associates who understands the nuances of the Illinois Probate Act and can ensure that your interests are protected throughout the process.

Estate Administration Process

The process of estate administration is initiated by the executor named in a decedent’s will petitioning the Probate Court with jurisdiction over the matter to admit the will to probate and issue him (or her) letters testamentary. In the absence of a will the process begins when an interested party such as a surviving spouse, child, or beneficiary files a petition with the Probate Court to be appointed estate administrator.

Once appointed, the administrator (or executor) is charged with the responsibility of all of the activities required to settle the decedent’s estate. This includes inventorying the estate, paying estate debts, and distributing assets. As an experienced Chicago estate administration lawyer will explain, estate administration typically takes at least 6 months and can take significantly longer if there is estate litigation, family disputes, or complex assets.

Closing an Estate

The closing of an estate refers to the distribution of the estate’s assets. Once all of the estate bills have been paid and assets distributed, there is nothing left in the estate. All that remains for the executor to do is file the final accounting with the Probate Court. The final accounting is a detailed record or statement of all of the activities that the administrator completed with respect to the estate. The accounting must include details of the assets that were in the estate at the time of the decedent’s death as well as their value. I should also include details as to income received into the estate as well as disbursements from the estate. Finally, the accounting should include details about what the distributions from the estate to beneficiaries and heirs. In other words, every cent that left the estate and came into the estate must be accounted for. The Probate Court expects a great deal of detail in accountings as well as documentation to back up the activities.

If the court determines that accounting is deficient, it will reject it. Furthermore, beneficiaries, heirs, and other interested parties have the right to object to an accounting.

Reopening an Estate

Under Illinois Probate Act, section 11-9- Reopening estate, upon petition the estate may be reopened to administer a newly discovered assets or to deal with an unsettled portion of the estate. As an experienced estate administration lawyer in Chicago will explain, while there are many reasons why a probate estate might need to be reopened such as a family litigation, improper distribution of assets, newly discovered heir, or a newly discovered debt, one of the most common reasons for reopening an estate is a newly discovered asset such as real estate, a bank account, or securities.

The process for reopening an estate begins with the filing of a petition with the Probate Court that includes the reasons for reopening the estate. If the petitioner is someone other than the former administrator, then notice must be sent to the former administrator. If the petition is granted, the Probate Court will issue letters and may require a new bond that is based on value of the asset or issue involved in the new administration.

It is important to note that there is no statute of limitation for reopening an estate. The administrator, executor, or another interested party can petition the court to reopen the estate at any time.

Related Statutory Provisions
  1. Accounting to distributee: Illinois Probate Act, 755 ILCS 5/24-8
  2. Duty to account - ward's estate: Illinois Probate Act, 755 ILCS 5/24-11
Illinois Probate Act, Section 24-9- Reopening Estate

If a decedent's estate has been closed and the representative discharged, it may be reopened to permit the administration of a newly discovered asset or of an unsettled portion of the estate on the petition of any interested person. If the petition asks the appointment of the former representative or a successor designated by the will, the court may order such notice of the hearing on the petition to be given to any interested persons as it directs or the court may hear the petition without notice. If the petition asks the appointment of a representative other than the one who was acting when the prior administration was completed or a successor designated by the will, notice of the hearing on the petition must be given as the court directs to the former representative and to all persons entitled either to administer or to nominate a person to administer equally with or in preference to the petitioner. No notice need be given to any person who personally appears at the hearing or who files his waiver of notice. On the hearing, the court may vacate the order of discharge or issue letters of office as the case requires. A new bond based on the value of the newly discovered asset or the unsettled portion of the estate and limited to the administration thereof must be furnished as provided by this Act.

Contact the Law Offices of Stephen Bilkis & Associates

If you have questions about reopening a probate estate, 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 11-9- Reopening estate. 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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