The loss of a loved one is never easy. Nothing, however, can prepare you for the pain of losing your mother. No matter how old you are, nor how long and happy a life your mother lived, your mother’s death will be followed by a period of grief and loss. If your mother named you as the Executor of her estate, you must find a way to set aside your grief long enough to get started on probating her estate. Fortunately, help is available. The attorneys at Nash Bean Ford & Brown, LLP can help you through the probate process, allowing you to concentrate on the emotional impact of your loss.
What Does It Mean to Be Named the Executor of an Estate?
If you have never served as an Executor before, you probably don’t know exactly what it means to be named as the Executor of an estate. In this case, your mother named you as her Executor when she executed her Last Will and Testament. If your mother had not executed a Will prior to her death, her estate would be considered an “intestate” estate. Because she did leave behind a Will, her estate is referred to as a “testate” estate. When someone dies intestate, any competent adult can volunteer to be the decedent’s Personal Representative and oversee the probate of the estate. Because your mother died testate, however, you were chosen by her to oversee the probate of her estate. While you can decline to accept the appointment, keep in mind that your mother clearly trusted you to handle her estate. The good news is that you can lean heavily on an experienced probate attorney if the position is emotionally and/or practically challenging.
What Happens during Probate?
Your mother left behind an estate that consists of all assets she owned and/or had an ownership interest in at the time of her death. This includes things such as her home, vehicle, and bank accounts along with investment accounts and household furnishings. If your mother’s estate was relatively small, and does not include complex assets, her estate may qualify for a small estate alternative to formal probate. If so, that will significantly shorten the amount of time it takes to probate her estate as well as reduce the costs associated with probating her estate.
If, however, your mother’s estate requires formal probate, it is in your best interest to retain the services of a probate attorney to help you for several reasons. The probate process requires a number of steps, many of which involve potentially complex legal concepts. Unless you have a legal background, it will be easy to overlook an important step or commit errors during the probate process. Those errors could be costly, both in terms of time and money. In addition, probating your mother’s estate will likely be an emotional experience. Working with a probate attorney ensures that your emotional state does not lead to mistakes or overlooked steps.
How Can Probate Attorneys Help?
Having a probate attorney by your side will be helpful in a number of ways throughout the probate process. Some of the things your probate attorney can help with include:
- Searching official records to ensure you have identified all your mother’s assets
- Preparing and filing the Petition to Open Probate
- Finding experts to provide date of death values
- Selling estate assets, if necessary, and obtaining maximum profit from the sale
- Calculating and paying federal and/or state gift and estate taxes if due
- Preparing the legal documents necessary to transfer ownership of estate assets
The cost of retaining a probate attorney to assist you is born by your mother’s estate. That cost, however, is typically worth it because a single mistake made by you could cost considerably more than your attorney’s fee.
Contact Probate Attorneys
If you have questions or concerns regarding the probate of your mother’s estate in the State of Illinois, contact the experienced Illinois probate attorneys at Nash Bean Ford & Brown, LLP by calling 309-944-2188 to schedule your appointment today.