Like any court proceeding, there are fees the court charges for the probate of someone’s estate. Much will depend on the estate itself. The probate fees are paid from out of the estate, not from surviving family members. Probate includes filing the will with the court, identifying all assets in the estate, and distributing those assets to beneficiaries.
Many people never get around to filing a will, requiring heirs to file with the probate court. If their affairs aren’t well-organized, the probate court will be necessary to transfer ownership of any assets to heirs, access any bank or other financial accounts, handle the deceased’s final tax return, and pay their final bills.
Fees For Probate
Some of the fees you can expect to pay for probate include:
• Court costs, such as:
o Filing fees
o Publication of notice
o Surety bond, if required
• Attorneys’ fees
• Administrator/executive fees
• Professional fees for experts, such as accountants, real estate agents, tax attorneys, etc.
A typical probate in Illinois averages $3,500 to $6,000, if it is simple and straightforward, there are no disputes involved, and the executor knows what they are doing. Anything that complicates the process, such as someone contesting the will or other litigation will raise the cost of the probate process.
Can You Avoid Probate In Illinois?
It’s possible to avoid probate with:
• Trusts, such as revocable living trusts that transferring property immediately upon death without any proceeding
• Gift assets to your beneficiaries before you die; you can gift $15,000 to each one per year ($30,000 for a married couple) without filing a gift tax return or counting towards their lifetime exemption amount
• Name beneficiaries on all accounts, such as life insurance policies, bank and brokerage accounts, retirement, and other accounts to allow immediate payment
• A “transfer on death” deed for transferring property
• A “payable on death” for financial accounts to transfer any funds upon death
• Property titled as “joint tenancy,” allowing the surviving spouse to be the sole owner upon death (called “right to survivorship”)
• An estate larger than a “small estate”
Incorporating these methods into your estate plan will reduce the total value of your estate and make the probate process simpler as well as less expensive.
For Smaller Estates
Executors can also file an Illinois Small Estate Affidavit if:
• The estate has a gross value of less than $100,000, not including mortgages
• No real estate is included in the estate
• No previous petition for probate has been filed
• There are no disputes, and all heirs agree
This allows a beneficiary to skip probate entirely by identifying themselves as one. A person who would inherit from the estate must prepare an affidavit stating that they would inherit and sign it under oath.
Another option is called a Summary Probate or Summary Administration. Similar to the Small Estate Affidavit, if the estate is less than $100,000 and has no unpaid taxes or debts, the Summary method can be used to finish an estate.
All the heirs and beneficiaries must agree to Summary Probate writing, and any beneficiaries must post a surety bond that must be approved by the court. Additionally, a notice of the death and the probate court petition must be published for three weeks to notify any claimants. It won’t avoid the probate process completely but is faster than a standard probate proceeding, usually within six months.
A small estate will still incur some fees, generally between $500 and $1,000, but much less than a full probate proceeding. An estate planning attorney can offer advice on lowering expenses for a small estate.
Let Provenza Law Help With Your Illinois Estate Planning
James C. Provenza is a leading Illinois estate planning attorney with years of experience helping clients with estate planning to make sure their wishes are carried out. Call our firm today at (847) 729-3939, or use our online contact form to make an appointment. We’ll help you decide which will fit best into your overall estate plan.