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Probate in Illinois – Distributing Assets Without a Will

Probate in Illinois – Distributing Assets Without a Will

A common question with respect to probating decedent’s estates in Illinois is, “How are assets of a deceased person distributed if he or she does not have a will?”
When a person in Illinois dies without a will, he or she is said to have died intestate. In Illinois, when a person dies intestate, yet has assets that need to be distributed, the first thing that must be determined is the identity of the rightful heirs. There are several possible scenarios, however only the most common will be discussed here. Keep in mind that this article is about assets titled in the decedent’s name only and how these assets are to be distributed in Illinois. Joint assets will generally vest in the surviving joint tenant.  Life insurance and retirements accounts often have named beneficiaries and will pass to the said beneficiaries without ever going through the probate process.  Real estate  may also be able to be sold and/or transferred without going through the probate process, depending on the circumstances.

Here are the most common situations in dealing with intestate estates:

  1. The deceased individual was married and had no children.  In this situation, all assets would be distributed to the surviving spouse.
  2. The deceased individual was married and had children.  In this situation, one-half of the assets would be distributed to the surviving spouse and the other half would be distributed equally amongst the decedent’s children.
  3. The deceased individual was not married and had children.  In this situation, everything would be split equally among the children.  If a child of the decedent has pre-deceased the decedent, his or her children (the decedent’s grandchildren) would share equally in their deceased parent’s share.
  4. The deceased individual was not married and did not have children.  In this situation, the assets would be distributed to the decedent’s parents and siblings on an equal basis.  However, if one of the parents is deceased, then the surviving parent would get a double share.
  5. The deceased individual was not married, had no children, no siblings and his or her parents were both deceased.  In this situation, we would then start looking at grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins of the decedent with respect to the distribution of the estate.

Bottom line?  Execute a will and your assets will be distributed the way you want them to be distributed, not how the statutes of the state say they are to be distributed.  Additionally, you will most likely save your estate (and therefore your beneficiaries) money in that a bond would most likely not have to be posted (and paid for) by the representative of your estate.

If you have any questions about the distribution of decedent’s estates or the probate process in Cook County or any of the collar counties of Chicago, feel free to contact the Law Offices of Roger W. Stelk at (847) 506-7330.

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