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Probate Property

When someone passes away, before the property in the estate can passed to the beneficiaries named in the will, the estate must go through a process called probate. Probate is the process during which the will is validated, the affairs of the decedent are finalized, and the assets in the estate are distributed to the beneficiaries. A significant drawback of probate is that it can take a long time. In Illinois, probate will take at least s6 months, and often takes up to 12 months. If the estate is involved in estate litigation, or is in other ways complicated, probate can last significantly longer than 12 months. However, not all of the decedent’s property will necessarily be subject to probate. Only the property that is part of the decedent’s probate estate is subject to the probate process. If you are wondering which property in your estate must go through the probate process, discuss your concerns with a Chicago probate property lawyer who will explain to you what property is included and your probate estate, and who will also help you minimize the effect probate will have on your estate.

Probate Property

Property that is subject to probate cannot be distributed to beneficiaries until the end of probate. This means the beneficiaries that may be relying on assets from your estate will have to wait months and months to receive the property that you left him. On the other hand, property that is not part of the probate estate typically will pass to the beneficiary immediately.

  • Real estate. Your house and other real estate that you own individually or that is held by you and someone else as tenants in common is part of your probate estate and must go through probate.
  • Personal property. Personal property is included in your probate estate. Personal property includes jewelry, clothing, home furnishings, and vehicles.
  • Financial accounts. Certain financial accounts are part of your estate. For example, a bank account individually owned by you will be part of your probate estate.
  • Interest in a business. Your interest in a business that is a sole proprietorship, partnership, corporation, or limited liability company is part of your probate estate.
Property That is not Part of Your Probate Estate

Generally speaking, as a Chicago probate property lawyer will explain, property which has a designated beneficiary and property that you own as a joint tenant with someone are not subject to probate.

  • Life insurance. Life insurance policies that name someone else as a beneficiary are not part of your probate estate. Thus, if you pass away with a life insurance policy naming your daughter or your sister as a beneficiary, the life insurance company can pay the proceeds to the beneficiary immediately upon your death. It is not necessary to wait for probate.
  • POD or TOD bank accounts. Bank accounts and other financial accounts that have a POD (payable on death) or TOD (transfer on death) designation are not subject to probate. The money or property in those financial accounts will pass to the designated individual upon your death.
  • Trust property. As a Chicago probate attorney can explain, if you create a trust and fund it during your lifetime, the beneficiaries of the trust will have access to the trust property based on the terms of the trust agreement. Thus, if the trust provides that the property should be distributed to the beneficiaries upon your death, the trustee must do so outside of probate.
  • Retirement accounts. Retirement accounts such as IRAs and 401(k) plans have designated beneficiaries. Thus, upon your death funds in those accounts become the property of the designated beneficiaries.
Avoiding Probate

If you are concerned that your probate property will be tied up in probate too long, and that you want to make sure that your beneficiaries have access to the property as soon as possible after your death, there are strategies that an experienced probate property attorney in Chicago can help you with to ensure that as little of your property as possible is probate property.

Contact the Law Offices of Stephen Bilkis & Associates

Probate can be a long, costly process. In Illinois it common takes up to a year, but can take much longer. If you have questions about how probate works, what property is in your probate estate, or strategies to avoid probate, the experienced probate property attorneys serving Chicago at the Law Offices of Stephen Bilkis & Associates have the skill and resources to help. 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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