What is Probate?

Probate is a legal proceeding that takes place in the Probate Court.  Probate has been established to take care of people who, generally, have been unable to make their own personal, financial and health-care decisions.  There are 2 types of Probate:

Living Probate, which seeks to provide protection for Minors (in Illinois and most states, persons younger than 18), and for Disabled Adults; and

Death Probate, which seeks to ensure that all debts, taxes and expenses that are connected with a decedent’s death and estate are properly paid, and that all remaining assets are distributed to the decedent’s surviving beneficiaries or heirs.

Probate can be expensive and time consuming.  In addition, Probate is public, as anyone can examine all documents and information in a Probate Court file.

Many people establish estate plans that avoid Probate.  In that way, they can save their surviving beneficiaries time, money and legal hassle, and also keep their affairs private.

Note: Please see our Glossary for a more detailed description of how Probate works.