What can you expect from the probate process?

One of the most challenging things a family will experience after the death of a loved one is settling his or her estate. It is not easy to navigate the process of accounting for estate assets, following the instructions left in a will and distributing assets. Even when there is a complete estate plan, it is not always easy to settle and eventually close an estate. This process can take months or even years to complete.  

Probate is the legal process of authenticating a will and taking other steps to settle the estate. This process is overseen by an Illinois probate court, and the executor of the estate is the one who will be responsible for meeting each requirement. If you are the executor of an estate, or you have an interest in an estate, you will benefit from understanding more about what to expect from probate.  

Required steps in probate 

Probate is typically required to settle most estates, even if there are no disputes over the estate. The decedent usually specifies who he or she wants to act as executor in the will, and this person will be the one to locate the will and file the appropriate paperwork with the court. Other steps in the probate process include: 

  • Locating all of the assets associated with the estate 
  • Determining the value of all estate assets 
  • Identifying and notifying all creditors with an interest in the estate 
  • Paying off remaining debts and taxes associated with the estate 
  • Distributing the estate according to the terms of the will 

When there are disputes over the terms of a will or other complications associated with the estate, it can add time to the probate process. To reduce the chance of this happening, it will help to have an understanding of what to expect from probate before initiating this process. 

Protecting the wishes of a loved one 

Throughout the probate process, the executor and others will settle estate matters and ensure that property is handled in a way that honors the wishes of the decedent. This is an enormous responsibility, and it will be beneficial to have experienced and knowledgeable guidance at every step. This ensures that a family is able to protect the interests of heirs while honoring the plans left behind by their loved one. 


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The Law Office of William C. Wombacher

Local: 309-674-8125
Fax: 309-674-8149

Commerce Bank Building
416 Main Street Suite 700
Peoria, IL 61602
NELF | National Elder Law Foundation
CAP | Council of Advanced Practitioners | NAELA | National Academy of Elder Law Attorneys, Inc.
Illinois State Bar Association