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Illinois Probate Act 755 ILCS 5/9-3: Persons Entitled to Preference in Obtaining Letters

When someone passes away, an estate administrator is tasked with the job of winding up his (or her) estate and distributing estate assets. If the decedent passed away testate, meaning that he left a will, the person is called an executor and is typically named in the will. If the decedent passed away intestate, meaning that he did not leave a will, the person is called an administrator. In order to be an administrator a petition must be filed. However, just because you want to be an estate administrator, does not mean that the court will grant your petition. Under Illinois Probate Act, section 9-3- Persons entitled to preference in obtaining letters, there is a priority list for persons entitled to preference in obtaining letters. Furthermore, you must be qualified. If you would like to learn more about persons entitled to preference in obtaining letters, contact a Chicago estate administration lawyer who has experience before the Illinois Probate Court.

Persons Entitled to Preference in Obtaining Letters

When deciding who should serve as the estate administrator, the probate court will consider people in the following order of priority:

  • The decedent’s surviving spouse or the person named by the surviving spouse
  • Beneficiaries who are children of the decedent or persons named by them
  • Other beneficiaries or persons named by the beneficiaries
  • The decedent’s children or persons named by them
  • The decedent’s grandchildren or persons named by them
  • The decedent’s parents or persons named by them
  • The decedent’s siblings or persons named by them
  • The closest relative to the decedent or persons named by him or her
  • The representative of the estate of a deceased ward
  • The Public Administrator
  • A creditor of the decedent

Even if you are at the top of the priority list and would like to serve as administrator, the court will approve your petition only if you meet the statutory qualifications of serving as an administrator.

Qualifications to Serve as an Administrator

As a Chicago estate administration lawyer will explain, the Illinois Probate Act requires that an estate administrator must be a resident of the United States, must be at least 18 years old, and must not suffering from a disability as defined in the Probate Act, and must not have been convicted of a felony.

Once you are appointed the estate administrator, the court has the authority to revoke your appointment for cause. Reasons for revocation including becoming a resident of a country other than the United States, being convicted of a felony, wasting or mismanaging estate assets, refusing to follow orders of the court, becoming the administrator under false pretenses, becoming mentally incapacitated, or becoming incapable of fulfilling the responsibilities for any other reasons.

Similarly, an estate administrator has the right to resign. In order to do so he must file a petition. Upon approval of the petition his letters will be revoked.

Filing a Petition

The process for being appointed an executor includes filing a petition with the Illinois Probate Court. The petition must state the name and last address of the decedent, the value of his estate, and the names and addresses of the decedent’s beneficiaries and heirs. The petition must also include details as to why the petition has the right to be named administrator. The court will review each petition and grant the petition of the person who has the highest priority and is qualified. As an estate administration attorney in Chicago will explain, the court will issue letters of administration to the person named administrator. The Letters give the administrator legal authority to manage the estate and act on its behalf. For example, with the letters of administration, the executor has the authority to go to a bank and take over the decedents accounts.

Responsibilities of an Estate Administrator

It is also important for anyone considering serving as an estate administrator to understand the responsibilities. An estate administrator must:

  • Take charge of estate property. This involves indentifying property, securing it, and appraising it.
  • Paying estate debts. This involves paying debts to creditors, addressing claims against the estate, and paying expenses of estate administration out of estate property.
  • Distributing property. The estate administrator must ultimately distribute assets from the estate to the decedent’s legal heirs.

Furthermore, it is important for anyone seeking to be appointed estate administrator to understand that there may be challenges along the way, including estate litigation. It is the estate administrator’s job to defend the estate.

Related Statutory Provisions
  1. Petition to admit will or to issue letters: Illinois Probate Act, 755 ILCS 5/6-2
  2. Who may act as executor: Illinois Probate Act, 755 ILCS 5/6-13
Illinois Probate Act, Section 9-3- Persons Entitled to Preference in Obtaining Letters

The following persons are entitled to preference in the following order in obtaining the issuance of letters of administration and of administration with the will annexed:

(a) The surviving spouse or any person nominated by the surviving spouse.
(b) The legatees or any person nominated by them, with preference to legatees who are children.
(c) The children or any person nominated by them.
(d) The grandchildren or any person nominated by them.
(e) The parents or any person nominated by them.
(f) The brothers and sisters or any person nominated by them.
(g) The nearest kindred or any person nominated by them.
(h) The representative of the estate of a deceased ward.
(i) The Public Administrator.
(j) A creditor of the estate.

Only a person qualified to act as administrator under this Act may nominate, except that the guardian of the estate, if any, otherwise the guardian of the person, of a person who is not qualified to act as administrator solely because of minority or legal disability may nominate on behalf of the minor or person with a disability in accordance with the order of preference set forth in this Section. A person who has been removed as representative under this Act loses the right to name a successor.

When several persons are claiming and are equally entitled to administer or to nominate an administrator, the court may grant letters to one or more of them or to the nominee of one or more of them.

Contact the Law Offices of Stephen Bilkis & Associates

If you would like to be appointed administrator of a loved one’s estate, you must be qualified and there must not be anyone else qualified who has higher priority. Furthermore, you must file a petition. To learn more about the process of, contact an experienced estate administration lawyer serving Chicago. The attorneys at the Law Offices of Stephen Bilkis & Associates have years of experience representing beneficiaries, heirs, and executors on matters related to probate, will challenges, and estate litigation. Contact us at 855-454-5529 to schedule a free, no obligation consultation regarding your case. We serve individuals throughout Chicago.

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