What Happens When You Die?

At Woods & Bates, P.C., we’ve been committed since 1972 to providing comprehensive legal services in estate planning, real estate, and administration. Understanding what happens after you pass is crucial for anyone, but it doesn’t have to be daunting. Our approach is to simplify this process for you, ensuring that your wishes are respected, and your legacy is protected. Estate planning is not just about distributing assets; it’s about peace of mind for you and your loved ones.

The Initial Steps After Passing

When a person passes away in Illinois, several immediate legal processes begin.  The initial steps, particularly in Illinois, involve crucial legal procedures in managing the deceased’s estate. These steps set the process of ensuring that the deceased’s wishes are honored, and their assets are appropriately distributed. Here’s a detailed breakdown:

Locating and Reading the Will

  1. Finding the Will: The first step is to locate the deceased’s will. This document is typically kept in a safe place, like a safety deposit box, with an attorney or a trusted family member. The will is a legal document outlining how the deceased wanted their assets distributed and may name an executor overseeing this process.
  2. Legal Validation: Once the will is located, it needs to be validated in a probate court. This process, known as probate, confirms the will’s legality and the executor’s authority to distribute the assets according to the will’s directives.

Handling an Estate Without a Will

  1. Intestate Succession: If the deceased did not leave a will, they are said to have died ‘intestate.’ In such cases, state laws come into play. Illinois has specific intestate succession laws that dictate how assets are distributed among surviving family members.
  2. Appointment of an Administrator: The court will appoint an administrator, often a close family member, to handle the estate distribution. This person will have responsibilities similar to an executor.

Role of Estate Planning

  1. Preventing Complications: Having a clear, legally sound estate plan is crucial. It prevents the complexities that can arise when someone dies intestate or with an unclear will. A well-prepared estate plan ensures that your assets are distributed according to your wishes.
  2. Addressing Family Needs: A good estate plan also considers the needs and situations of your family members. It can include trusts, guardianship designations for minor children, and instructions for the care of pets.

Overcoming the Legal Process

Probate is the court-supervised process of authenticating a last will if the deceased made one. It includes locating and determining the value of the deceased’s assets, paying their final bills and taxes, and distributing the remainder of the estate to their rightful beneficiaries. Our experienced team at Woods & Bates, P.C. helps make this process as smooth as possible, ensuring all legal requirements are met and your loved ones are supported.

Estate Administration Without a Will

In cases where there is no will (known as dying intestate), Illinois has laws that dictate how your assets will be distributed. This process can be more complicated and time-consuming. Our firm takes a comprehensive approach to guide your family through these circumstances, ensuring a fair and lawful distribution of assets.

The Importance of Real Estate Planning in Your Estate

Real estate often forms a significant part of one’s estate. Handling this involves more than just transferring deeds. It requires a deep understanding of real estate law and estate planning experience. At Woods & Bates, P.C., we offer guidance in this area, ensuring your real estate assets are seamlessly integrated into your estate plan and handled correctly after passing.

Let’s Plan for Tomorrow, Today

Thinking about what happens after you die isn’t always easy, but it’s essential. At Woods & Bates, P.C., we’re committed to helping you every step of the way. We offer personalized estate planning, real estate, and estate administration services tailored to your unique needs. To discuss your estate planning needs and prepare for the future, contact Woods & Bates, P.C. in Illinois at 217.735.1234 or online to schedule a consultation.