This morning, I was speaking with a business client who also owns his own home with his wife. In Illinois, when you die without a will, a state law called "intestate succession" determines who is the rightful heir of your estate. Yes, your loved ones must undergo a court process called "probate". Probate court typically takes 9 months to 2 years and higher to finalize. This court process is expensive because you must typically pay an attorney and your costs are excessive. More importantly, you cannot sell your property or your inherited property, without providing good time to a prospective buyer.
Second, if you have a will, you still must undergo the probate procedure. The will must be admitted to probate and must be mailed to all the potential heirs. This often times creates court challenges, which makes the probate court procedures more costly and time consuming. Additionally, with the economic challenges of today, your inheritance may be seized by your creditors or a divorcing spouse. In contrasts, a living trust or otherwise known as a "revocable living trust" is similar to a will. Unlike a will, a living trust will not be subject to any court proceeding. In fact, a living trust creates a smooth transition upon your death or incapacity. Unlike a will, there are no expensive attorney's fees and costs. Your estate may be administered in less than a week or thirty (30) days.
Sean Robertson is an estate planning attorney that concentrates in estate planning, wills and trusts planning, probate and guardianship proceedings, and asset protection law. Sean can be reached at 312-498-6080 or 630-364-2318.