Richard Hellerman
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The death of a loved one is difficult. It is a very emotional time and a very sad time. There are many details that family members and friends have to take care of in order to finalize that the affairs of the decedent. The Chicago probate attorneys at the Law Offices of Stephen Bilkis & Associates are well aware of how difficult it is for the family to go through the process of finalizing the decedent’s estate. When someone passes away, with a will or without a will, before his property can be distributed it is necessary that the estate go through a process known as probate. Probate is the process which is managed by the executor that the decedent named in his or her will. It is overseen by the Illinois Probate Court. During probate the executor is responsible for completing activities to ensure that all of the decedent’s debts are paid, and that his property is distributed to the appropriate people. Whether you are an executor or a beneficiary, if you have questions or concerns about probate related to a loved one’s estate, contact an experienced Chicago probate lawyer who will help you understand the process and who will answer questions that you have during this difficult time.

Probate Process

The first step in initiating probate is for the decedents will to be filed with the clerk of the probate court. Typically this is done by the person named as the executor in the decedent’s will. A probate court judge will review the well and unless there are glaring problems with the will, the judge will admit the will into probate. The judge will also formally appoint executor. This means that the executor will have legal authority to move forward with winding up the decedent’s estate.

The law requires that all beneficiaries and heirs of the decedent be sent a notice of the filing of the will. In addition, the executor must publish a notice about in order to notify creditors.

Gathering assets. One of the jobs of the executor is to gather all of the assets of the decedent. The executor must also determine the value of the assets in the estate. If there are assets that are unusual or of a high value, then it may be necessary for the executor to hire an expert to appraise those assets. The executor is responsible for the assets, so he must make sure that they are secure and safe.

Gathering, inventorying, appraising, and safeguarding the assets are critical steps, as one of the jobs of the executor is to use estate assets to pay creditors and to ultimately distribute to the beneficiaries.

Paying estate bills. Another responsibility is for the executor to pay all of the bills that the estate owes. This may involve paying the decedent’s creditors debts that were owed at the time of his death. This may also include paying expenses related to managing the estate. For example, if the executor had to hire someone to Appraise assets in the estate, the appraisers fee would be paid out of estate assets. If there are any claims against the estate, such as lawsuits against the decedent that were not settled before his death, it is up to the executor to settle those claims add to pay any valid claims. In order to pay bills, it may be necessary for the executor to sell estate property.

Receiving income. Another job of the executor is to receive income into the estate. This might include receiving payment of debts owed to the decedent at the time of his death. This might also include receiving investment income into the estate such as rents from investment property owned by the decedent.

Distributing assets. One of the last responsibilities of the executor is to distribute assets to the beneficiaries that the decedent named in his will. Assets are distributed according to the terms of the will.

If the decedent passed away without leaving a will, then the assets are distributed to his heirs according to the rules of intestate succession. Is some cases this can become complicated. If the decedent did not have any close relatives, or was not in touch with any relatives, his estate may end up being passed to a distant blood relative after that person proves that he is related at an heirship hearing.

Estate accounting. Before an estate can be closed, the executor must submit an estate accounting to the Illinois probate court. The accounting is a detailed record of all of the events that occurred during the probate process, particularly details about money and property going out of the state and money and property coming into the estate. For example, the accounting must include details about each piece of property that was part of the estate at the time of the decedent’s death. It must also include information about creditors paid, property sold, distributions made, and any income received by the estate.

Estate Litigation

During probate disputes may arise that lead to estate litigation. For example, a beneficiary or heir may challenge the validity of the will. Beneficiaries may have disagreements regarding distributions. Beneficiaries and heirs may question how the executor or estate administrator is doing his job. They may also questions or objections to the accounting. If you are involved in an estate dispute, it is important that your interests are represented by an experienced Chicago probate lawyer.

Contact the Law Offices of Stephen Bilkis & Associates

The staff at the Law Offices of Stephen Bilkis & Associates is experienced in representing beneficiaries, heirs, and executors in estate matters in Illinois Probate Court. We will help you make the process as simple and painless as possible under the circumstances. Contact a probate attorney serving Chicago 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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"I’ve know Richard Hellerman for 30 plus years. I respect his judgement as well as his analytical mind. Have had the opportunity to see his high quality work as well as his unyielding dedication to his clients. Can’t recommend him enough." SB
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