Get Answers From An Experienced Probate Attorney

Probate is a complicated process that not many are aware of. In fact, many people who find themselves in the middle of a complex probate case know nothing about it. It can be hard to find information on the subject. With the help of an experienced attorney like Mark Schottler, residents of Cook County and the greater Chicago area can get answers on probate.

A couple discussed probate with an attorney


1. What Is Probate?

Probate is a somewhat lengthy process in which a court decides how assets pass and to whom. This is dictated by law and judgement of the court, and is influenced by various factors such as whether the decedent died intestate (without a will) or testate (with a will). 

2. What Assets Are Subject To Probate?

There are two types of assets: In Court Assets and Out Of Court Assets. Out of court assets are not subject to probate. This is because they are passed on to a beneficiary or are in a living trust. In court assets are subject to it. This includes personal effects and belongings named in a will without a beneficiary. You can learn more about which assets are subject to probate here

Two people shake hands in front of a house as one person places their property into a living trust to avoid probate

3. How Can Probate Be Avoided?

Assets that go through probate are in the decedent’s sole name. You can transfer property to someone else in a multitude of ways. One of the most popular methods is through living trusts. This transfers the property from the sole owner to the beneficiary. What many people like about trusts is that they can be altered or revoked at any time during one’s life. Trusts are also popular because wishes specified in a trust are private.

There are several other ways to avoid probate. Payable On Death(POD) forms and Transfer On Death(TOD) forms can be useful. Joint Ownership is a popular option for married couples. Payable on death allows a beneficiary to go straight to the bank to access your account. The TOD is the same as a POD, however they are applied to different types of accounts. You can learn more about the different ways to avoid probate here and here.  

4. How Much Does Probate Cost?

This depends on the complexity of the case. The cost adds up with court fees, administrative fees and lawyer and accountant fees. If the affairs were not left in order, and the case drags on, costs can get expensive. Typically, it can cost 3-7% of the estate’s value and often exceeds this. If there are disputes in the case, this can eat up most or all of the estate if not handled quickly. 

5. How Long Does Probate Take?

Like the cost, this depends on the complexity of the case. Creditors must be notifed of the decedent’s death prior to proceedings. In Illinois, they have 6 months to come forward. After that, they forego rights to file a claim. However, if they file a claim, it will take time to close that case. That can take at least half a year. Delays can cause the time of a probate case to wane on. A case can typically take between 14 months to 2 years in Chicago. If delays occur, it can take much longer- in the worst cases, even decades. There are a few issues that can cause delays. A complicated tax situation, the sale of assets, creditors seeking repayment, lawsuits against an estate, and in some instances difficult finding heirs can all contribute to a lengthy probate process. You can learn more about these delays here.

If you live in the Chicago area or Cook County, contact Mark Schottler, an experienced attorney, for help with your probate questions. You can book a free consultation here.