1. Secure Assets.
Securing estate assets is an important part of the probate process. This includes notifying banks and other financial institutions of the death, ensuring all accounts are closed or transferred to the appropriate person, and making sure all valuable property is secured in a safe place. It is also important to update any insurance policies that may be in effect at the time of death.
2. Notify Creditors.
The executor is responsible for notifying all creditors that may be owed money by the estate, and they must do so within a certain amount of time (which varies based on state law). This includes any debtors, credit card companies, banks, loan companies, or other financial institutions.
3. Determine Heirs/Beneficiaries.
Under Illinois law, an individual’s heirs are those individuals who are closest in relation to the deceased and who are entitled to receive a share of the estate. It is important to determine exactly who these people are in order to properly distribute assets upon completion of the probate process.
4. Collect Estate Asset.
Once the heirs and beneficiaries have been determined, it is then necessary to collect all assets of the estate. This includes any cash or other liquid assets that may be held in bank accounts, as well as real estate, stocks, bonds, or other valuable property. Anything owned by the deceased must be collected in order for it to be properly distributed after probate is complete.
5. Pay Debts & Taxes.
The executor must pay any outstanding debts owed by the deceased prior to distributing assets among heirs and beneficiaries. Any taxes due on the estate must also be paid before any distributions can occur.
6. Distribute Assets.
Once the debts and taxes have been paid, the remaining assets can be distributed among heirs and beneficiaries. This process should be handled in accordance with the will or other estate documents, so it is important to ensure that all required paperwork has been properly filed with the court prior to distribution.
7. File Appropriate Documents with the Court.
The executor must file various documents (such as a Petition for Administration and an Inventory of Assets) with the Probate Division of their local county court in order for probate proceedings to move forward. It is also necessary to obtain Letters of Testamentary from the court before any distributions can occur.
8. Close Estate Account.
Once all assets of the estate have been distributed, the executor must close out any estate accounts and terminate any agreements or contracts that were in effect. This includes notifying banks and other financial institutions of the death and closing any accounts related to the deceased.
9. Obtain Deeds & Signatures for Final Disposition of Property.
If real estate was owned by the deceased, it is necessary to obtain a deed (or similar document) with all heirs’ signatures in order for the property to be transferred out of probate. The executor should also ensure that any mortgages on this property are paid off before transferring ownership.
10. Finalize Legal Matters & Estate Administration.
Once all assets have been distributed, all debts have been paid, and any real estate has been transferred out of probate, the executor must file a Final Accounting with the court. This document will provide an itemized list of all assets received, debts paid, and distributions made while also summarizing how much money was left in the estate after all expenses were taken care of. Once approved by the court, this document officially closes the probate case.