The legal system in America is very complex and often leaves people with a lot of questions. There are a few things you need to know in order to understand why laws differ from state to state, and how the laws work in the state you live in. How does Illinois law differ from the rest of the country? Mark Schottler, a Chicago IL based attorney, explains. 

Why Are Laws Different in Each State?

While states have collective laws that they all abide by (these are known as federal laws), each state has the ability to create their own laws (state laws). In the  U.S. Constitution, the 10th Amendment refers to the powers reserved to the states. In brief, it dictates that each state has the authority to govern and enforce laws that they create themselves.

Because each state’s demographics are unique, state laws vary greatly. The need for certain driving laws may differ based on geographical location. Probate law, estate planning, and child custody laws differ depending on the population and the needs of the residents. There are even different laws for acquiring a license for lawyers state to state, which is why a lawyer must have a separate license for every state he or she practices in.

When facing legal issues, it’s best to look up your state-specific laws pertaining to your circumstances. This will ensure you know what to expect and can prevent any costly mistakes from disobeying a law you didn’t know was in place in your state. 

Illinois Law books line a book shelf

Illinois Law and What to Expect

The laws in Illinois are determined by the individual makeup and needs of its citizens. Illinois probate law dictates how an estate and its assets are divided up after a person’s death. It also affects how debts are handled and taxes are paid. If there is a will in place and it is proved valid, that will dictate how assets and property are distributed. Assets may still be subject to probate even if there is a valid will. Assets and property in a trust (such as a revocable living trust) can avoid the probate process in some instances. If there is no will or it is proven to be invalid by a court of law, things must pass through the laws of intestate succession.

In Illinois, the type of assets left behind and how the decedent held ownership of them dictates if they pass through probate. In many other states, the probate process is determined solely by if there is a valid will or not. 

Illinois probate law determines that assets must pass through the probate process under certain circumstances. If the assets collectively total $100,000 or more they are subject to probate. Additionally, if real estate is solely owned, then it too must pass through probate – even if a will directs who would receive it. Assets that are jointly owned or property in a transfer on death deed can avoid the process. If you have questions about whether or not a decedent’s assets are subject to probate, contact an experienced probate attorney such as Mark Schottler. 

Estate planning laws in Illinois differ from the rest of the country as well. One of the most notable differences is in the definition of a living will. In other states, “living will” deals with the transfer of assets. In Illinois, this is not the case. A living will in Illinois has to do with medical decisions and care when a person is dealing with a terminal illness. It focuses on a decedent’s preferences for the end of their life once they are incapacitated – whether or not they want to be kept on life support, whether or not they want to have a death delaying procedure, etc. These are not easy choices to make. An estate planning attorney can help you make these big decisions and help you to think rationally. 

A client and attorney shake hand as the discuss the Illinois law on probate.

In Need of Legal Help?

Illinois laws are different from other states in the US. If you live in Illinois, set up a meeting with an experienced attorney and consult them on your legal circumstances. Mark Schottler is an estate planning and probate attorney in Chicagoland. You can set up a free consultation here. 

Mark Schottler is a Chicagoland attorney with over 20 years of experience working both in probate and estate planning law and in real estate law. He puts his extensive knowledge on these subjects into easily consumable articles that will help and advise the public. Mark Schottler has a passion for probate and uses this to create relevant articles that are informative and entertaining. *While these posts may detail general legal issues, it is not legal advice. Use of this site does not create an attorney-client relationship.