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McHenry, Illinois

Probate Attorneys

If you’re heading towards probate proceedings after losing a loved one, it can be a bumpy ride.

But most people aren’t really sure what probate is (other than something to be avoided).

So what is probate, and how does it work? Our experienced Illinois probate attorneys at Diamond Estate Planning are here to help you take the steps you need to keep your family out of probate court – or walk you through the process if you’re already going through it.

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What is Probate?

Put simply, the probate process is when the court oversees the process of distributing the estate of someone who has died.

Some of the most common assets in the probate process include:

  • Property and real estate
  • Personal items (such as cars, furniture, and jewelry)
  • Money in checking and savings accounts
  • Stocks, bonds, and investments
  • Intangible assets (patents, trademarks, etc.)

It’s important to note that not all assets are subject to probate. Additionally, the entire process can be avoided if the person whose estate is being transferred created a trust before they died.

How does the probate process work in Illinois?

Here’s a breakdown of Illinois’ probate process:


Once a person dies, the probate process begins when a petition is filed in probate court. If the deceased person had a valid and legally enforceable last will and testament, the court will follow it and appoint an executor of the estate. If they did not, the court will distribute their assets according to Illinois law and the court will appoint someone to be the administrator of the estate. All beneficiaries of the deceased person should be made aware of the probate hearings, in case they want to contest the will or the terms of the will.


After the executor is appointed in Illinois, they must notify all creditors of the estate in case they wish to make a claim against the assets of the estate.


The executor then must compile an inventory of the assets of the estate, and the court can appoint appraisers to value the assets of the estate. In Illinois, the court can appoint up to three appraisers.


The executor must then pay all expenses related to the probate process, which can include, but is not limited to:

  • Funeral and burial expenses
  • The surviving spouse’s or child’s award
  • Debts due to the federal, Illinois, or local government
  • Money due to employees of the deceased


The final step is distributing the assets to the beneficiaries of the estate. The executor will petition the court for permission to transfer the estate’s remaining assets in accordance with the will, or in accordance with state law. After the petition has been granted, the executor will create new deeds for property, transfer stocks or other funds, liquidate assets, etc.

An uncontested probate case usually takes between 9 months to a year to complete. In most cases, the money is not distributed to the beneficiaries until the end of the case.

Why should I hire a McHenry, Illinois probate lawyer?

Luckily, many probate cases go smoothly.

On the other hand, we have seen plenty of cases where there is significant in-fighting between members of the family, or confusing instructions or debts that need to be paid.

Plus, everything that occurs in probate court is also public information – which can certainly make things worse.

Working with an experienced Illinois lawyer to help you create an estate plan while you’re still alive allows your family to conduct the estate administration themselves and avoid probate court altogether.

Even if you don’t predict any disputes amongst your family members, having an experienced Illinois probate lawyer on your side ensures your loved ones receive all the assets you intend them to receive, no strings attached.

Check out our FAQs for more information on probate.

Contact Diamond Estate Planning

Our team at Diamond Estate Planning has seen how complicated probate can make things for already-grieving families, and we’re here to help. We can help you understand all of the different options available, or prepare exactly what you need to protect on the front end to avoid this process altogether. Give us a call at 779-704-5738 to schedule a consultation with our team.

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