Probate Law & Illinois Statute of Limitations


The executor of the estate of an Illinois decedent must meet various deadlines in administering the assets, subject to the state probate law and statutes of limitations for the specific function. In most cases, hiring an attorney to guide the executor through the probate process and ensure the meeting of applicable time lines is advisable.

Opening Probate

Under Illinois law, an executor must present the original will along with a certified copy of the death certificate to the probate court in the county in which the decedent resided within 30 days after the decedent's death. The executor must then file a petition for probate. This statute of limitations may be extended if the executor did not know he was named as executor by the decedent, but he must file the probate petition within 30 days of receiving such knowledge or refuse the role of executor.

Probate Without Petition

If the decedent has been dead for 30 days and no petition has been filed for admittance to probate, the court may begin probate proceedings of the will without the petition filing. By statute, the court may decide that beginning probate procedure is unnecessary and failing to probate the will does not "prejudice the rights of any interested person." Any notice of a hearing for admission of the will for probate will be given to interested parties in the decedent's estate as directed by the court.

Will Contests

Anyone contesting the validity of a will must do so within six months of its admission to probate. To contest a will, the petitioner must mail a copy of the petition to the estate's executor, attorney and each heir or beneficiary listed in the will. Failure to send a copy to an heir or beneficiary does not allow for a time extension for contesting the will. Those contesting a will have the right to demand a jury trial. The executor has the duty to defend any proceeding contesting a will's validity.

Inventorying Assets

The executor must file an inventory of the estate's assets with the court within 60 days of receiving letters testamentary -- documents issued by the court for the executor to begin the probate procedure. This inventory must include all real estate and personal property owned by the decedent. Personal property includes bank and brokerage accounts, stocks and bonds, cash, mutual funds, motor vehicles and valuables such as art, jewelry and antiques. If the executor discovers additional real or personal property after filing the inventory, she must file a supplemental inventory within 60 days of receiving this knowledge.

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