A will is an estate planning document that allows a testator to determine who will get his (or her) property after his death. In the absence of a will, the person’s property will go to the surviving spouse or blood relatives such as children, siblings, or parents. In the absence of close, easily identifiable blood relatives, it becomes challenging for the Probate Court to determine who should receive the decedent’s assets. An heirship hearing, also referred to as a kinship hearing, is a special proceeding in the Probate Court to determine whether someone who claims to be related to a decedent is indeed related to that person. Heirship hearings are typically conducted when a decedent passes away without leaving a will, and no close relatives come forward as heirs. In the absence of a will, a decedent’s estate cannot go to non-relatives or to institutions. Instead, the estate must go to a blood relative. Before the Probate Court can release the estate to someone claiming to be a blood relative of the decedent, that person must prove kinship. To learn more about heirship hearings, contact an experienced Chicago kinship hearing lawyer.Legal Heirs
Under Article II of the Illinois Probate Act, only spouses and blood relatives have the right to inherit from a decedent under the rules of intestate succession. Blood relatives are defined as children, grandchildren, great-grandchildren, parents, siblings, uncles, aunts, nephews, nieces, and cousins. Children who are legally adopted are treated as blood relatives. A child who is adopted out to another family is not considered a blood relative for purposes of kinship and intestate succession. Stepchildren and foster children who were never legally adopted are not considered blood relatives.Proving Heirship in Illinois
Under Illinois law, there are two ways to determine or declare heirship:
- Affidavit of heirship. One way to prove heirship is to submit to the Probate Court a notarized affidavit from someone who can state facts that will determine the ancestry of the person claiming heirship. The affidavit should show in great detail how the person claiming heirship is related to the decedent by blood. In other words, the affidavit should include a family tree that shows the connection between the decedent and the person claiming heirship.
- Narrative. The second way to prove heirship is through a notarized narrative that describes how the person claim in heirship is related to the decedent.
If you have questions about how to prove that you are an heir, contact an experienced Chicago kinship hearing lawyer who will be able to explain to you who qualifies as an heir and how to prove heirship.Avoiding Problems Associated With Intestate Succession
The best way to ensure that your estate avoids the complications associated with intestate successions such as heirship hearings is to create a will. With a will you can specific who will receive your assets once you pass away. If you do not have any close relatives, you can leave your property to friends, employees, non-profit organizations. Without the will, your property may end up in the hands of a distant relative who you may not have ever met. To learn more about how to ensure that your estate is distributed according to your wishes, contact an experienced kingship hearing attorney in Chicago who will help you develop a comprehensive, customized estate plan that will meet you goals. Such a plan may include not only a will, but a trust, and other estate planning documents.Contact the Law Offices of Stephen Bilkis & Associates
If you have questions about how to prove heirship, the kinship attorneys serving Chicago at the Law Offices of Stephen Bilkis & Associates are here to help. Because the process can be long and complicated, it is important that you are represented by someone with experience representing heirs, beneficiaries, and executors in Illinois Probate Court. Contact us at 855-454-5529 to schedule a free, no obligation consultation regarding your case. We serve individuals throughout Chicago.