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Illinois Probate Act 755 ILCS 5/3-1: No Sufficient Evidence of Survivorship

Whether the decedents left a will or passed away intestate, simultaneous deaths can create a problem for determining who is entitled to inherit. Simultaneous death occurs when two people or more die at the same time, or very close in time, and at least one of them is entitled to part or all of the other's estate on their death. If you have question related to how simultaneous deaths are handled under Illinois law, including the requirements of Illinois Probate Act, section 3-1- No sufficient evidence of survivorship, contact an experienced Chicago estate administration attorney at the Law Offices of Stephen Bilkis & Associates.

No Sufficient Evidence of Survivorship

There are some situations in which evidence of survivorship is needed to determine who is entitled to property of a decedent. This determination becomes difficult when two (or more) individuals die in the same incident, such as a car accident, airplane crash, or fire. Under Illinois Probate Act, section 3-1- No sufficient evidence of survivorship, if there is no evidence of survivorship such that it must be concluded that the individuals died simultaneously, then the property must be distributed as follows, unless a provision in the will, trust agreement, deed, contract of insurance or other governing instrument for distribution of the property states otherwise:

  • General rule. The property of each person shall be disposed of as if he or she had survived.
  • Successive beneficiaries. If 2 or more beneficiaries are designated to take successively by reason of survivorship under another person's disposition of property, the property shall be divided into as many equal portions as there are successive beneficiaries and these portions shall be distributed respectively to those who would have taken if each designated beneficiary had survived.
  • Joint tenancy. As a Chicago estate administration lawyer can explain, it is common for spouses to town property, particularly the family residence, as joint tenants. If 2 persons hold title to property as joint tenants with survivorship rights, the property shall be distributed 1/2 as if one had survived and 1/2 as if the other had survived. If there are more than 2 joint tenants and all of them have died simultaneously, the property is to be distributed as described in the proportion that one bears to the whole number of joint tenants.
  • Simultaneous deaths of insured and beneficiary. If the insured and the beneficiary of a policy of life insurance have died simultaneously, the proceeds of the policy are to be distributed as if the insured had survived the beneficiary.
Planning for Simultaneous Deaths

When creating a will and other estate document, an experienced estate administration attorney in Chicago can help ensure that your wishes are memorialized in your will in the event your death and your beneficiary’s death are close in time. For example, the a simultaneous death cause could provide clarity to such a situation by stating what should happen in the event that a beneficiary does not survive for a certain number of days after the death of the testator. Such a clause may prevent problems during administration and possible estate litigation.

Related Statutory Provisions
  1. Uniformity of interpretation: Illinois Probate Act, 755 ILCS 5/3-2
  2. Legacy to a deceased legatee: Illinois Probate Act, 755 ILCS 5/4-11
Illinois Probate Act, Section 3-1- No Sufficient Evidence of Survivorship

If the title to property or its devolution depends upon priority of death and there is no sufficient evidence that the persons have died otherwise than simultaneously and there is no other provision in the will, trust agreement, deed, contract of insurance or other governing instrument for distribution of the property different from the provisions of this Section:
(a) The property of each person shall be disposed of as if he had survived.
(b) If 2 or more beneficiaries are designated to take successively by reason of survivorship under another person's disposition of property, the property so disposed of shall be divided into as many equal portions as there are successive beneficiaries and these portions shall be distributed respectively to those who would have taken if each designated beneficiary had survived.
(c) If 2 persons hold title to property as joint tenants, the property shall be distributed 1/2 as if one had survived and 1/2 as if the other had survived. If there are more than 2 joint tenants and all of them have so died, the property thus distributed shall be in the proportion that one bears to the whole number of joint tenants.
(d) If the insured and the beneficiary of a policy of life or accident insurance have so died, the proceeds of the policy shall be distributed as if the insured had survived the beneficiary.

Contact the Law Offices of Stephen Bilkis & Associates

If you are an executor, estate administrator, beneficiary, or heir with an interest in an estate that where simultaneous deaths is an issue, it is important to understand the rules related to how the issue will be resolved, including the requirements of Illinois Probate Act, section 3-1- No sufficient evidence of survivorship. The skilled estate administration attorney serving Chicago at the Law Offices of Stephen Bilkis & Associates have years of experience representing clients in estate matters before the Illinois Probate Court, including matters related to survivorship issue, estate disputes, and other matters related to the administration process. 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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