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Illinois Probate Act 755 ILCS 5/9-4: Petition to Issue Letters

After someone passes away without leaving a will, before his (or her) estate can be distributed to the decedent’s heirs, the law requires that anyone who wishes to be named the estate administrator petition the court to formally appoint him as the estate administrator. An administrator does not have legal authority to act on behalf of the estate until the court issues him “letters.” If you would like to be named administrator of a loved one’s estate, it is important that you understand the steps you must take to be approved by the Probate Court to perform the duties of the administrator. The Chicago estate administration lawyers at the Law Offices of Stephen Bilkis & Associates can help you file a petition to issue letters and guide you through the administration process until the estate is closed.

Petition to Issue Letters

The Illinois Probate Court requires that whoever would like to be appointed estate administrator must submit a petition to issue letters to the court that must include the following information:

  • Decedent’s name, address at the time of death
  • Decedent’s date and place of death
  • Approximate value of the decedent’s Illinois estate
  • Names and addresses of the decedent’s heirs
  • Name and address of person nominated as administrator
  • Facts showing the right of the petitioner to be named administrator

If the court approves your petition, the court will issue you “letters of administration.” Letters of administration is an official document from the Probate Court that gives the estate administrator the legal authority to act on behalf of the estate.

Qualifications to be an Administrator

Not just anyone is qualified to act as an estate administrator. Even if you are a close relative, close friend, or heir, the court must still determine whether or not you are qualified. Under the Illinois Probate Act in order to be eligible to act as an estate administrator the petitioner must be at least 18 years old, must be a U.S. resident, must not be mentally incapacitated, and must not have been convicted of a felony. Furthermore, the person cannot be someone who is classified as a person with a disability as defined by the Illinois Probate Act. This means that he cannot be someone who has a gambling problem, who has a drug problem, who is unable to support himself or his family, or who has fetal alcohol syndrome. To learn more about the qualifications to be appointed an administrator, contact an estate administration attorney in Chicago.

Duties of an Estate Administrator

With the letters of administration, the administrator has the authority to take control of the decedent’s estate, manage it, and eventually distribute the assets to the decedent’s heirs. Steps in estate administration include:

  • Determine the value of the estate. The estate administrator must determine the value of the assets of the estate. This may involve determining bank balances, the value of personal property, and the value of real estate. If necessary, the executor has the authority to hire a professional to appraise estate assets.
  • Pay estate bills. The estate administrator must pay creditors. This may include any bills owed by the decedent, as well settling any claims against the estate. The executor also must pay bills related to estate administration such as attorney’s fees, accounting fees, and other expenses.
  • Pay taxes. The estate administrator must pay the decedent’s income taxes as well as estate taxes.
  • Distribute estate assets. The estate administrator is responsible for distributing estate assets to the heirs of the decedent. The Illinois Probate Act has very specific rules as to which relatives are entitled to receive portions of a decedent’s estate. An experienced estate administration lawyer serving Chicago will be able to explain who is entitled to inherit, how to prove heirship, and how to find missing heirs.
Related Statutory Provisions

  1. Petition to admit will or to issue letters: Illinois Probate Act, 755 ILCS 5/6-2
  2. Letters revoked when will is produced: Illinois Probate Act, 755 ILCS 5/6-3
  3. Who may act as executor: Illinois Probate Act, 755 ILCS 5/6-13
  4. Who may act as administrator: Illinois Probate Act, 755 ILCS 5/9-1
Illinois Probate Act, Section 9-4- Petition to Issue Letters

Anyone desiring to have letters of administration issued on the estate of an intestate decedent shall file a petition therefor in the court of the proper county. The petition shall state, if known: (a) the name and place of residence of the decedent at the time of his death; (b) the date and place of death; (c) the approximate value of the decedent's real and personal estate in this State; (d) the names and post office addresses of all heirs of the decedent and whether any of them is a minor or person with a disability and whether any of them is entitled either to administer or to nominate a person to administer equally with or in preference to the petitioner; (e) the name and post office address of the person nominated as administrator; (f) the facts showing the right of the petitioner to act as or to nominate the administrator; (g) when letters of administration de bonis non are sought, the reason for the issuance of the letters; and (h) unless supervised administration is requested, the name and address of any personal fiduciary acting or designated to act pursuant to Section 28-3.

Contact the Law Offices of Stephen Bilkis & Associates

If you are interested in serving as an estate administrator, it is important that you understand the process for being appointed, as well as the duties and responsibilities of an administrator. The Chicago estate administration lawyers at the Law Offices of Stephen Bilkis & Associates have extensive experience working closely with executors, estate administrators, personal representatives and other fiduciaries in estate matters. 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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