What Assets Go Through Probate in Illinois?


Probate has the potential to be a bit long and drawn out, especially if there’s any dispute over how your estate should be disbursed. When planning how to handle your estate, it helps to know which types of assets go through probate and which ones don’t.

Following is a breakdown of which assets go through probate in the state of Illinois.

Assets that Go Through Probate

Assets that go through the probate process include the following.

Property in a Will

Anything that’s included in a will is going to be handled through probate. That said, writing a will isn’t a bad idea since it makes the process much quicker. A well-written will clearly spells out your last wishes and heads off disputes.

Tenants-in-common assets

Any share you have in assets that have been titled to multiple people will go through probate. Often, real estate is titled as tenants-in-common property, but it might also include bank accounts, bonds, and stocks.

Assets with No Named Beneficiary

Finally, if an asset has no named beneficiary—or if it did have a named beneficiary who has since passed away—it is considered to be intestate if it isn’t handled in some other way, such as through a trust.

Assets That Don’t Go Through Probate

On the other hand, there are many instances where assets do not need to go through probate. These include the following.

Jointly-Owned Assets

Anything you own jointly with another person is automatically passed on to them if they are still alive. As such, jointly-owned assets typically don’t need to go through probate.

Assets with a Named Beneficiary

In addition, assets with a named beneficiary are automatically passed on to that beneficiary. These include life insurance policies, retirement accounts, and similar assets.

Assets Covered by the Illinois Small Estate Affidavit

Illinois allows probate estates to be handled outside of probate if the following circumstances apply:

  • There is no real estate.
  • The total value of probate assets is less than $100,000.
  • There are no letters of office (i.e. no one has petitioned for probate).
  • There are no disputes regarding heirship.

If these qualifications all apply, then your estate won’t need to go through probate, even if it is considered to have probate assets.

Property Held in a Trust

Property held in trust is not considered to be part of your estate, and as such, does not typically pass through probate.

Assets that are Transferred on Death

Some assets—including accounts and real estate—can be made transferrable upon death. As long as the beneficiary is still alive, these assets can be disbursed outside of probate.

Minimizing the Impact of Probate

In order to minimize the negative impact that probate may have on your estate, it’s important to implement sound strategies and keep your estate plan up to date. Working with an estate planning attorney can help you accomplish that, from designating beneficiaries to creating a trust. If you have questions about probate and estate planning, contact Hart David Carson LLP today.

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