Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Chicago Estate Planning Attorney | What is Probate?

You have heard much about it. Probate. It is such a foreign word. You know the kind. The word you here everyone say, but know one seems to know exactly what it is. Probate. What the heck is Probate? You may have heard people on TV say that you need to avoid probate at all costs. Is probate like a trip to the dentist? What about this word could be so bad that it needs to be avoided at all costs. This post will give you the in's and out's of probate. When you are done, you will be one of the few who is no longer muttering this word like it is the evil bogey man of your nightmares. A "Chubacabra" of sorts.

History: The word probate comes from the Latin word "Probatus" meaning proven. But what is proven? In the case of Estate Planning, and more specifically Wills, the Will is Proven. To Prove a Will.  

Now that leaves the next question, What if their is no Will? If there is no Will, the individual is is considered to die intestate. Intestate means simply without a Will. I will leave the whole intestate discussion to another post, but it is important for you to understand that there are two ways for you to find your estate in probate. 

So back to, - Proving What? We have to prove one of two things. If their is a Will, we must prove the Wills Authenticity, Contents, and the Capacity of the Will Maker (Testator). If their is no Will, you die intestate, we must prove and certify the lineage of the deceased both north and south. North meaning those lineal descendants who came before you. Such as your parents and your grandparents and so on and so forth. The descendants who are south are your children and grandchildren and....on and on and on. This includes lateral descendants such as your brothers children as well. 

How Do We Prove It?  I am so glad you asked. 
  The method of Proving the Will is simpler than the the intestate method. In order to prove a Will, a court will be the judge of the validity of the will. A Will will be submitted to probate and an opportunity for for people to contest a Will will be set. This time will also allow creditors an opportunity to submit their claims against the decedents estate.  If their are no challenges to the Will, a simple "certification" by the executor of the estate claiming that the Will is valid and accurate will usually suffice. If their is a Will contest, the drama really starts. I will leave that explanation to another post, but rest assured it is a messy and dirty ordeal.

   If you die intestate, the proof is in showing all potential beneficiaries under your states intestate statute. In Illinois, the method that the State disposes of your assets in a manner called "per stirpes". The method of distribution is not important for the purpose of this post, but what is important is that all potential beneficiaries under the per stirpes plan must be identified and either receive a myriad of letters or sign a certification about the probate. The proof come in when you must show the judge that you did not leave a single individual out of the search to notify all potential beneficiaries of the passing of the deceased.

So where does all of this information leave me?

This post leaves you a little more educated about the probate process and what probate is. The next post will help you determine if you would like to avoid probate, or if probate is right for you. Hopefully, your mind is a little more open to probate after understanding what probate is and what is involved in probate.

If you would like to speak to a lawyer about Probate, a Will, a Trust, or the Administration of an Estate, call the Law Office of Jonathan W. Cole at (708) 529-7794. The Law Office of Jonathan W. Cole has been helping people in Oak Lawn and the Chicago-land area with their legal needs and would like to help you as well.

5013 W. 95th St.
Oak Lawn, IL 60463
(708) 529-7794

1 comment:

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