Richard Hellerman
Guarding Your Loved One’s Wishes 855.454.5529 Request A Free Consultation


A will is a legally enforceable statement of how an individual would like his (or her) estate to be distributed once he passes away. It can include specific gifts or bequests to individuals such as relatives and close friends. With a will you can also state who you would like to be charge of managing your estate when you pass away. This person is known as your executor. When you pass away, before your property can be distributed to your beneficiaries, it must go through a process called probate. Probate takes about 6-12 months. At the end of the process your beneficiaries will receive your property. While there are other important estate planning documents, a will is something that every person should have. To learn more about the importance of a will and the consequences of not having one, contact an experienced Chicago wills lawyer at the Law Offices of Stephen Bilkis & Associates.

Importance of a Will

A will is the only way to ensure that none of your property is subject to intestate succession. Illinois intestate succession rules state who would be entitled to receive your property in the absence of a valid will. In other words, if you do not write a will, Illinois will write one for you. Under intestate succession your estate will be distributed as follows:

  • Surviving spouse and children: Surviving spouse will get 50% and your children will share in 50%
  • Surviving spouse and on children: Surviving spouse will get 100%
  • Children and no surviving spouse: Children will share in 100%

As a Chicago wills lawyer will explain, In the absence of a surviving spouse and children or descendants, then your estate will go to your surviving parents and siblings. In the absence of surviving parents, siblings, or descendants of siblings, your estate will go to other surviving blood relatives. If you have not surviving blood relatives, your property will escheat to the state of Illinois.

Keep in mind that even if you have a trust, there is also the possibility that you will pass away leaving some property in your probate estate. That property will be subject to intestate succession rules if you do not have a will.

Probate Property Through your will the law allows you to only leave property that is subject to probate. Non-probate property will be distributed outside of the probate process. Probate property includes personal property such as jewelry, clothing, furniture, and automobiles. Probate property also includes bank accounts and real estate.

Property that is not probate property is property that has a designated beneficiary such as IRAs, 401(k) plans, insurance policies, and bank accounts with a payable-on-death or transfer-on-death designation. Non-probate property also includes property transferred into a trust as well as interest in property owned in joint tenancy.

If you would like to learn more information about which property in your estate is subject to probate and which is not, contact a wills attorney in Chicago.

Problems During Probate During probate, if an interested party feels that a will is invalid, he (or she) has the legal right to petition the probate court to challenge the will. This is called a will contest. While anyone can be upset about the terms of a will, only beneficiaries and heirs have legal standing to contest a will. In addition, a petitioner must have legal grounds to contest a will. Legal grounds are limited to improper execution, fraud, duress, undue influence, and lack of testamentary capacity.

If the probate court judge determines that the will is invalid then the will may be thrown out. As a result, the estate will have to be administered and distributed based on the rules of intestate succession.

Contact the Law Offices of Stephen Bilkis & Associates

A will is a critical part of a comprehensive estate plan. Even if you have a trust, a will is necessary to ensure that any property that is left in your probate estate will go to people of your choosing and will not be subject to the rules of intestate succession. For help in creating a will that meets your goals for how you would like your estate distributed and that is executed according to there requirements of Illinois law, contact the experienced wills attorneys serving Chicago at the Law Offices of Stephen Bilkis & Associates. We are here to help. Contact us at 855-454-5529 to schedule a free, no obligation consultation regarding your case. We serve individuals throughout Chicago.

Client Reviews
"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
Contact Us for a Free Consultation