How Long Does Probate Take In Illinois

The question of how long probate takes in Illinois depends on the circumstances of the deceased person’s estate. Probate in Illinois can last less than a year, but it could also take several years or longer. How long probate takes will depend on factors such as the value and nature of the estate’s assets, the estate’s creditors and debts, and whether there are disputes between interested parties. 

What is Probate?

Probate is the formal legal process that administers the assets of a deceased person. The process is supervised by a court. It is utilized to distribute assets to those entitled to receive them. In Illinois, probate is required unless the assets of the estate are at or less than $100,000 and there is no real estate, unless an exception applies to an asset. Some exceptions include:

  • Jointly titled assets
  • Assets that have a post-death beneficiary
  • Assets titled in a Trust

What are the steps to Open Probate in Illinois? 

The person in possession of a deceased person’s original Last Will and Testament must file it with the appropriate court. Unless the Will is invalidated by the court, it generally directs who receives the estate and in what share, and who should be the person/entity to administer the estate. If a deceased person did not leave a Will at the time of their death, then the court will direct the distribution of the estate’s assets according to the Illinois laws of “intestate succession.” The law also sets forth a priority of who can nominate someone to administer an estate when there is no Will. 

Upon a petition of an interested person, the court appoints an executor if there is a Will and an administrator if there is no Will. Procedural requirements set forth in Illinois law must be followed, including:

  • Notice to or waiver of notice by interested persons 
  • Determination of the deceased person’s heirs at law through an “Affidavit of Heirship”
  • Submission of an oath and bond, with or without security, by the nominated executor or administrator

What is Supervised vs. Independent Probate in Illinois? 

Probate can be either supervised or independent. If an estate is supervised, then the executor or administrator must get the court’s approval prior to taking certain actions. If an estate is independent, the court’s approval is generally needed only to open and close the estate. 

What are the steps after Probate is opened in Illinois? 

The executor or administrator will be responsible for administering the assets of the estate after their appointment. These tasks include, but are not limited to the following:

  • Identifying and collecting the estate’s assets
  • Notifying known creditors of the person’s death and publishing the 6-month notice to unknown creditors
  • Paying expenses of administering the estate, taxes, and debts
  • Distribute assets to the people/entities entitled to receive them under the Will or pursuant to intestate succession

Why does Probate take as long as it does in Illinois? 

A simple, uncontested probate case can take less than a year. However, a probate case cannot be closed prior to the expiration of the 6-month notice to unknown creditors of the deceased person. Unknown creditors must be allowed this amount of time to come forward with their debts. Thereafter, provided all other administration tasks are complete, the executor or administrator can take the steps to close the probate case in court. 

While simple, uncontested probate cases can take less than a year, the process can be delayed due to a number of factors, including the following:

  • Disputes as to the validity of a Will, legal heir(s) of the deceased person, who should be the executor or administrator of the estate, payment of debts and taxes, or how the executor or administrator has handled the estate
  • Inability to locate heirs or beneficiaries of an estate
  • Unique assets that are not easy to value or collect
  • The IRS or Illinois Department of Revenue processing of estate tax returns
  • Need to obtain court approval for actions in supervised administration

If you have questions about how long probate takes in Illinois, please contact us.

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