Here is Circuit Court 12. This is not an official Court website. The website address for the Twelfth Circuit Court of Illinois is: http://www.willcountycircuitcourt.com/
Circuit Court Judges and Associate Judges
Twelfth Judicial Circuit
The county of Will.
Circuit Court Judges
Hon. Stephen D. White
Hon. Carla J. Alessio-Policandriotes
Hon. Amy Bertani-Tomczak
Hon. William G. McMenamin
Hon. Gerald R. Kinney
Hon. Rodney B. Lechwar
Hon. Susan T. O'Leary
Hon. Daniel J. Rozak
Hon. Richard C. Schoenstedt
Hon. Richard Siegel
Hon. Edward P. Petka
Hon. Carmen Goodman (1/19/07)
Hon. Sarah Jones (1/19/07)
Hon. Jeffery J. Allen
Hon. James E. Egan
Hon. Robert J. Baron
Hon. Robert P. Brumund
Hon. Edward A. Burmila
Hon. James Garrison
Hon. Joseph C. Polito
Hon. Lawrence C. Gray
Hon. Marilee Viola
Hon. Bennett Braun
Hon. Robert P. Livas
Hon. Robert C. Lorz
Hon. Rick A. Mason
Hon. Bobbie N. Petrungaro
Hon. Michael J. Powers
Hon. Marzell L. Richardson
Court Clerk: Pamela J. McGuire
14 West Jefferson St
Joliet, Illinois 60432-4399
How to Probate and not probate
Probate is the legal and court process by which a deceased person’s assets are gathered, his or her bills paid and then the remaining assets distributed to his or her heirs or the persons or entities named in a will to receive the same.
There are several ways to transfer property from a decedent to his or her heirs. They are:
Small Estate Affidavit
If the total value of the Decedent’s estate, excluding real estate, is less that $100,000.00 the assets can be transferred to those entitled to them either under a will or by intestate succession by the execution and delivery to those holding the assets of the decedent (i.e a bank, stock transfer company, safe deposit box company or the Illinois Secretary of State for auto titles) of a Small Estate Affidavit. Frequently, banks and stock transfer companies will ask for letters of office; however, a small estate affidavit will usually serve the same function.
Another alternative to letters of office or the small estate affidavit is the transfer indemnity bond. However these bonds may cost more than having an estate probated.
The complete small estate statutes should be read before using this affidavit for transfers. It can be found at Illinois Compiled Statutes Section 5/25-1 through 5/25-4. The online address for the Small Estate Act is: http://www.legis.state.il.us/. Click on the Illinois Compiled Statutes button, scroll down to Chapter 755 and look for “Small Estates” then click on that listing. In addition, the Secretary of State driver’s license offices provides these forms for transfer of auto titles.
A summary probate estate administration of an estate of $100,000 or less may also be used to transfer assets and keep the costs to a minimum; however, this procedure really requires complete agreement by the heirs and anyone else entitled to the assets of the estate. While the persons entitled to the assets may obtain them faster under this procedure, the expense will probably be nearly the same or slightly less than a regular probate proceeding, but places those receiving a distribution at some risk for debts of the decedent, because the statute of limitations for debts of a decedent is two years from the date of death, while the statute of limitations is only 6 months if a probate proceeding is filed and publication made.
For a Decedent Estate get the correct forms for a Testate or Intestate Estate and for a Supervised Administration or an Independent Administration.
A Testate Estate is one where the decedent left a will. An Intestate estate is one where there is no will.
Independent administration is where the personal representative (Administrator of Executor) does not have to get certain actions approved in advance by the probate court judge.
In a Supervised Administration, the personal representative must have their actions approved by Petition and Order signed by the probate court judge before the action is taken. In Supervised Administration an inventory must be filed within 60 days of the appointment of the personal representative.
In Independent Administration the inventory is not due until the estate is being closed and then it is due not less than 30 days prior to filing of the representative’s final report and accounting. Also, an Independent Administration will be converted to a Supervised Administration by the Petition of any interested person. If such a petition is filed there is no way to stop the conversion to Supervised Administration.
Petition to admit will to probate and for letters of administration
Affidavit of heirship (either “spouse and descendants” or “collateral heirs”)
Affidavit of attesting witnesses (if the will does not have such an affidavit attached to it)
Oath of Office
Surety Bond or Non-surety Bond
Order declaring heirship
Order admitting will and appointing representative (i.e. Executor)
Notice to heirs and legatees
Appearance and Consent to proof of will by Affidavit (where notice is waived by heirs and/or legatees) or Appearance on proof of will
Petition for Letters of Administration
Affidavit of heirship (either “spouse and descendants” or “collateral heirs”)
Appearance for Letters of Administration (where notice is waived by heirs)
Oath of Office
Order declaring heirship
Order appointing representative (i.e. Administrator)
Notice of hearing (to heirs)
Independent Administration – Publication Notice
Disabled Persons Estate:
Petition for appointment of Guardian for Disabled Person
Report of Physician
Statement of Right to Discharge Guardian
Order Appointing Guardian ad Litem for Allegedly Disabled Person
Summons for Appointment of Guardian for Disabled Person
Oath of Office for Guardian of Minor of Disabled Person
Order of Appointment - Plenary Guardian or Disabled Person
Bond of Legal Representative – No Surety or
Bond of Legal Representative – Surety
Minor’s Guardianship Estate:
Petition for appointment of Guardian
Nomination for Guardian of Minor (where Minor over 12 years agrees to Guardian)
Order Appointing Guardian ad Litem
Oath of Office for Guardian of Minor or Disabled Person
Bond of Legal Representative – No Surety or
Bond of Legal Representative – Surety
The Will County Web Site makes forms available at: http://www.willcountycircuitcourt.com/ At this point you can use the search box for forms or look on the list presented for the form or forms that you need for your particular estate. The forms come in PDF Adobe Acrobat format, so you will need Adobe Acrobat Reader software on your computer. If you don’t have this software on your computer, the web site has a button which takes you to the Adobe Web site where you can easily download the Adobe Acrobat Reader software. Additional resources for on-line forms are the websites of Lake County and Cook County. Amending one of these forms to suit your circuit should save you some time from drafting the form from scratch.
Court Clerk’s Office
A Circuit Court Clerk's office is usually open from 8:30 A.M. to 4:30 P. M. from Monday to Friday, holidays excluded. It is best to call in advance of going to the County Courthouse and to schedule a court date. Remember - Courthouses have security and you will have to pass through a metal detector and maybe even searched before being allowed in. The security is generally similar to that at airports.
Filing a New Probate Case
Warning! Almost every matter that requires one to be in a courtroom requires the assistance of a lawyer. Remember the truthful old adage “He who has himself for a lawyer, has a fool for a client.”
A new Illinois Probate Estate may be opened by first filing the will of the decedent, if there is a will, with the Probate Court Clerk. A filed will is usually given a file number. If one is filing the Petition to open an estate at the same time tell the Clerk so that only one file number is given to the matter. If the will was filed earlier and one is later filing the Petition to open the estate, be sure to tell the Clerk to send the will file up to the Courtroom along with the case file. Then, after filing the original Petition and payment of the filing, one should schedule a date for hearing. On the hearing date appear in the Probate Court courtoom. Give the Notice of Hearing, if required, and the oath, bond, heirship affidavit, heirship order, order appointing representative and copy of original petition to the Court Clerk. The Court Clerk will generally review the forms and ordinarily be able to tell you if there is any problem with any of them. If all the forms are properly filled out and there is no contest of the will the Probate Judge will sign the orders appointing the representative, determining heirship, setting bond and opening the estate that morning and letters of office will be mailed within a few days. Upon filing an estate in the Clerk’s office usually a one year status date is set for closing of the estate, so you should make note of and calendar this date.
Closing a Decedent Estate
Closing a decedent’s estate can be done in the same manner. Send notice to all interested parties and send a copy of the Notice, Inventory, Final Account and Final Report to the Probate Court Judge before your hearing date. Schedule a hearing date. Appear in the Probate Courtroom on that date, give the Final Account, Notice of Motion, Final Report, Vouchers, Final Report, Publication Notice and Order of Discharge to the Court Clerk and appear before the Probate Court Judge. If every thing is in order, the Estate will be closed.
Notice of hearing dates are set by statute. They are:
STATUTORY NOTICE PERIODS
NO WILL ESTATES:
When applying for letters of administration (where there is no will) one must mail notice of the place, date and time of the hearing and a copy of the petition to each person named in the petition whose post office address is stated and who is entitled to administer or to nominate a person to administer equally or in preference to the petitioner. The order of preference in appointing an administrator is found at 755ILCS 5/9-3 Persons entitled to preference in obtaining letters.
Within 14 days of the entry of an order issuing letters to an administrator the administrator shall send a copy of the Petition and a copy of the order showing the date of its entry to each of the decedent's heirs who was not entitled to notice of the hearing on the petition. If the name or address of any heir is not stated in the notice then publication in a newspaper shall be done for three consecutive weeks. (See 755 ILCS 5/9-5 Notice – Waiver)
ESTATES WITH A WILL:
Within 14 days after entry of an order admitting or denying admission of a will to probate or appointing a representative, the representative, or if none, the petitioner must mail a copy of the petition to admit the will or for letters and a copy of the order showing the date of entry to each of the testator's heirs and legatees whose names and post office addresses are stated in the petition. If the name or post office address of any heir or legatee is not stated in the petition, the representative, or if none, the petitioner, must publish notice in a newspaper for three consecutive weeks (See 755 ILCS 5/6-10 Notice - Waiver)
The Illinois Compiled Statutes relating to probate can be found on the world wide web at: http://www.legis.state.il.us/
ESTATE ADMINISTRATION CHECKLIST OF INFORMATION THAT NEEDS TO BE COLLECTED IN ORDER TO PREPARE AN INVENTORY, TAX RETURNS AND OTHER PROBATE REPORTS
I. ESTATE ASSETS--For each asset on which the name of the decedent appears at the time of his or her death:
A. Real Estate—Obtain for each parcel of real estate:
1. A copy of the last real estate tax bill.
2. In addition to the street address, a copy of the deed, survey or title insurance policy to the property so that the correct legal description is available. If these cannot be located, have a title search done to identify the form of ownership and who actually is in title.
3. Have a professional appraisal prepared (or, in the case of property owned jointly by husband and wife, a market analysis from a real estate agent). Advise the appraiser of the purpose of the appraisal (i.e Federal Estate Tax Return or sale purpose).
B. Bank Deposits--For each bank account or bank certificate of deposit, a letter or account obtain a print out from the bank stating:
1. The name of the bank, credit union or savings and loan.
2. The account number or numbers
3. The name (or names) appearing on the account.
4. The form of ownership (i.e. sole or joint ownership or trust account (i.e., Totten Trust)
4. The balance of each account upon the date of death.
5. The amount of interest accrued to the date of death, but not yet credited.
C. Stocks--For each publicly traded stock:
1. The name of the issuing corporation.
2. The class of stock (i.e., common or preferred) or series of stock (i.e., A, B etc.).
3. The number of shares held at death.
4. The fair market value of the shares on the date of death (i.e. the average between the high and low for that date or if the death occurred on a weekend, then the average of the averages for the Friday and Monday of that weekend.).
5. If the stock was "ex dividend" on the date of death, the amount of the dividend.
6. Check whether there is a brokerage or dividend purchase account.
D. Bonds and Notes--For each publicly traded bond or note:
1. The name of the issuing corporation, government, or authority.
2. The face amount of the bond or note.
3. The date of issue and date of maturity.
4. The stated rate of interest.
5. The fair market value of the bond or note on the date of death.
6. The amount of unpaid interest accrued to the date of death.
7. Ask if there were any bearer bonds owned by, but not held in the name of the decedent.
8. For U. S. Savings Bonds – make photocopies of them.
A stock broker will be able to assist you with the value of stock and bonds and generally a bank will help you with the value of U.S. Savings Bonds.
E. Closely Held Businesses--For each private corporation or partnership in which the decedent had an interest:
1. Copies of financial statements for each of the five fiscal years preceding the date of death and a financial statement for the year of death as soon as it is available.
2. A copy of any shareholder agreement or partnership agreement.
3. If the corporation or partnership owns real estate or equipment that may have appreciated in value, it may be necessary to obtain an appraisal of that real property or equipment.
4. Consider the necessity of having a professional appraisal of the value of the business as a going venture, in addition to a liquidation value.
F. Other Notes or Mortgages - For each note or mortgage for which no public market exists:
1. The name of the maker of the note or mortgage.
2. The face amount of the note or mortgage.
3. The date of the note or mortgage and the date of maturity.
4. The stated rate of interest.
5. The amount of unpaid interest accrued to the date of death.
6. A description of the security for the note or the property subject to the mortgage.
7. Any other information relevant to the fair market value of the note or mortgage, such as any defaults or late payments, the value of the security, or the creditworthiness of the maker.
G. Tangible Personal Property -- An appraisal of household furniture, furnishings, jewelry, silver, china, appliances, automobiles, and other personal effects is recommended, particularly if there are items of particular value (e.g., antiques, fine art, or collections).
H. Safe Deposit Boxes – Did the decedent own or share a safe deposit box with anyone? An inventory of the safe deposit box contents. (Entry to safe deposit boxes may be obtained by Affidavit of an interested person and a death certificate before letters of office are obtained or with letters of office and a death certificate.)
ASSETS JOINTLY OWNED WITH HUSBAND OR WIFE--In Illinois, all assets in the names of both husband and wife are presumed to be owned as joint tenants and so pass automatically to the surviving spouse. However, one half of those assets are still included in the gross estate for federal estate tax purposes, and so the same information will be needed as for assets in the name of the decedent alone. Assets in joint tenancy with someone other than the spouse may create gift or estate tax problems. Simultaneous deaths present special issues, as each is presumed to have predeceased the other under Illinois law.
ASSETS JOINTLY OWNED WITH OTHERS--Assets in the names of the decedent and one or more persons other than a surviving spouse may pass automatically to the surviving co-owners if the surviving co-owners have rights of survivorship. However, the entire value of an asset will be subject to federal estate tax unless the surviving owners can prove that they contributed to the purchase of the asset. Therefore, the same information is needed for jointly owned assets as for assets in the decedent's name alone and the following additional information will be required:
A. A copy of the title to each asset should be provided so that it can be determined if the asset passes to the co-owners or is part of the estate that passes under the will.
B. For federal estate tax purposes, obtain whatever evidence is available to show the contribution of each surviving owner to the purchase of the property.
GIFTS---For federal gift tax purposes, the following information will be needed with respect to each gift of the decedent made in the year of death.
A. Name, address, and Social Security number of the recipient.
B. Date of gift.
C. Amount or description of gift. If gift was in property, the description should include the same information as that required above for an asset of the estate, including the fair market value on the date of the gift.
LIFE INSURANCE--For each policy of insurance on the life of the decedent, a Form 712 will be needed from the insurer. A copy of this form must accompany the Federal Estate Tax Return (Form 706).
RETIREMENT BENEFITS AND ANNUITIES---If any amount is payable to the estate or any beneficiary by reason of the decedent's death under any pension or profit-sharing plan, individual retirement account (IRA), 401(k) account, stock option plan, annuity contract, employment agreement, or other arrangement, get:
A. A description of the plan, contract, or other arrangement.
B. The name, address, and Social Security number of the beneficiary.
C. The amount payable to the recipient as of the decedent's death.
ESTATE RECEIPTS-For each receipt of funds after the date of death, either in the name of the decedent or in the name of the estate of the decedent:
A. The name and address of the payor.
B. The amount of the payment.
C. The date of the check.
D. The date received or deposited.
E. The nature of the payment (i.e., repayment of principal or income)
A brief explanation of the reason for the receipt (i.e., dividend, insurance refund, or such) or a copy of the disbursement memo, letter, or other documentation accompanying the receipt.
ESTATE DISBURSEMENTS---For each disbursement from the estate, and for any payment after death for any medical expenses of the decedent, any funeral expenses, legal expenses, accounting expenses, debts (including taxes) in the name of the decedent, or other expenses incurred by reason of the death of the decedent or in connection with the property of the decedent, get:
A. The name and address of the payee.
B. The amount of the payment.
C. The date of the check.
D. A brief explanation of the reason for the payment (i.e., debt, expense, or such) or a copy of the invoice or bill being paid.
If the decedent had a Court Guardianship before death, then the Guardian (who then becomes a guardian to collect) can only collect amounts owed to the Guardianship estate and cannot pay out any sums for debts of the decedent, even if incurred before death. All debts of the decedent must be paid out of the decedent's estate.
ESTATE BENEFICIARIES---Obtain the name, address, and Social Security number of each beneficiary of the estate. If any beneficiary is a minor (i.e., under the age of eighteen), please provide the minor's birth date. This information is needed for the Federal Estate Tax Return (Form 706),
OTHER INFORMATION—Obtain copies of:
A. The last federal and state income tax returns filed by the decedent.
B. Any trusts created by the decedent during his or her lifetime.
C. Any gift tax returns filed by the decedent.
D. Any trusts in which the decedent had any interest.
E. If the decedent was divorced, a copy of the divorce decree and separation agreement (or supply the name of the previous husband or wife and the date of the death or divorce).
F. Any birth, baptismal, marriage or death records that may be relevant to heirship.
G. Any premarital agreement entered into by the decedent.
H. The names and addresses of the decedent's accountant, insurance agent, stock broker, and any other tax or investment advisors.
When obtaining values of the various assets owned by the decedent keep in mind that you may need values for the date six months after the decedent’s death, which is the alternate valuation date for Federal Estate Tax purposes.
As one can see, there is an enormous amount of detail and work involved in administering an estate and the job shouldn’t be accepted lightly. If you don’t want the job or think you cannot handle it, give the job to a professional. Then it will be done right and fast and you won’t have disgruntled heirs or criticism from some judge. Also, having a professional handle the administration will probably cost less in the long run, by reason of the hours of work saved and the fact that a professional is less likely to make an expensive mistake in administering the estate.
Every estate must be closed and in order to arrive at that day it is a good idea to have a timetable for the events that are involved in an estate:
ESTATE ADMINISTRATION TIMETABLE
The following is a general description of the steps, and the timing of the steps, usually needed for the administration of an estate.
GENERAL DUTIES--The general duties of the personal representative (an executor or administrator) of an estate are to:
A. Collect the assets of the estate.
B. Pay debts and taxes owed by the decedent or the estate and invest the assets of the estate prudently.
C. File all income, estate and other forms required.
D. Distribute the assets of the estate in accordance with the will (or, if there is no will, in accordance with the laws of intestacy).
II. INITIAL TASKS--Shortly after death, it is usually necessary to:
- Arrange for the funeral (if there is no surviving husband or wife, children, or other next of kin to do so).
- If there is an unoccupied residence, make sure that it and any valuables in or around it are secure and that there is homeowner and liability insurance. If you have to arrange for homeowner’s insurance be aware that the premium will be very high for an unoccupied building. If it is winter, consider having the house winterized by draining the plumbing and putting antifreeze in the toilet bowls. Talk to the neighbors and ask them to keep an eye on the house. Arrange for grass cutting or snow shoveling. Have the post office forward the mail to your or your lawyer’s address. This will be a great resource for determination of assets and debts.
- If there is a will, file it with the Clerk of Court and prepare the petition and other court documents to arrange for the probate of the will (or the issuance of letters of administration if there is no will). Publish for claims in a local newspaper (In Illinois a newspaper of general circulation in the County of the decedent’s residence is sufficient notice to creditors and unknown heirs). Notify by letter disputed creditors of decedent to file claims.
- Prepare and file an inventory of the assets in the estate with the Probate Court, unless this is Independent Administration, in which case begin the preparation of the Inventory so that it can be shared with heirs and filed with the final account.
III. WITHIN THREE MONTHS OF DEATH
A. Notify employers, banks, insurance companies, stock brokers, and others of the death, and begin to identify assets and liabilities of the decedent and consider the necessity of selling assets to pay bills or to avoid losses to the estate by reason of a falling market, mortgage foreclosure or deterioration.
B. Invest the estate assets prudently, considering the law regarding appropriate investments by fiduciaries. Illinois Compiled Statutes Chapter 755 ARTICLE XXI. INVESTMENTS BY REPRESENTATIVE at: http://www.legis.state.il.us/
C. Send required written notices to beneficiaries under the will, to heirs and to creditors.
IV. WITHIN SIX MONTHS OF DEATH
- Estimate the amount of cash needed to pay debts and taxes, and plan for any sales of assets needed to pay taxes and to distribute the estate.
C. Assemble cash needed to pay taxes that may be due.
D. Obtain alternate valuation of assets if needed for Federal Estate Tax purposes.
V. WITHIN NINE MONTHS OF DEATH
- Prepare and file Federal Estate Tax Return Form 706 (if needed). Pay federal estate taxes and make any Illinois tax deposit that may be due. If the return cannot be completed, then be sure to file requests for extensions of time to file the returns, but pay the amount that is estimated to ultimately be due.
- Prepare and file any other death tax returns needed for property located in other states.
VI. OTHER TASKS
- Prepare and file the decedent's final lifetime income tax returns, federal (1040) and state (IL1040) (due on April 15 of the year following death).
- During the administration of an estate, federal (1041) and state income tax returns (IL1041) must be filed showing the income and expenses of the estate.
VII. DISTRIBUTION OF ESTATE
The distribution of assets from the estate can begin at any time, but is usually concluded after the estate taxes have been determined and paid and the claims period has run. Depending on the circumstances, distributions can be carried out:
- After an accounting has been filed in court and approved by the court.
- Partial distributions can be made before closing of the estate. In larger estates consider making distributions of at least the income, because the estate pays income taxes at 40%, while most beneficiaries will be in a lower, perhaps 30%, tax bracket.
- After a final account and final report (and IRS closing letter obtained in estates paying Federal Estate Taxes) has been approved by all beneficiaries.
- After all claims and taxes have been provided for.
- By receipt on distribution (voucher) and approval of the final account and attorney and representative fees has been obtained from each beneficiary.
VIII. FINAL FILINGS
Once the administration of an estate has been completed and the assets have been distributed:
- Final federal and state income tax returns can be filed.
- It is a good practice to obtain from each heir and creditor a receipt or voucher for each payment made. These receipts or vouchers or cancelled checks should be filed with the final account before the estate can be closed.
- The notice, a copy of the inventory and the final account should be given to heirs or a waiver of notice obtained regarding the final accounting and closing of the estate.
- File Final Account, vouchers, Final Report and Inventory, if Independent Administration.
Assets of the decedent that are in another state may require probate in that state. Real estate will generally require a probate proceeding in the state where the real estate exists. However there are exceptions where probate can be avoided by providing an affidavit and/or a bond to a title company. Each state’s laws should be checked to determine the necessity for probate in that state.
The Public Administrator of each Illinois county is appointed by the Governor of Illinois to a four year term, during which he is appointed by the Probate Court to manage estates of individuals who die without a will and/or without known heirs. The Public Administrator may also be appointed to manage the estates where there has been a failure to file an account, upon embezzlement, fraud, mismanagement or where a conflict of interest may exist. If no heirs to an estate are found, the estate assets, after payment of all legitimate claims and fees, are given to the County Treasurer.
The County Public Guardian is appointed in Adult Guardianship estates where no one else is willing or able to act and there are assets of more than $25,000.00. The State Public Guardian acts in cases involving less that $25,000.00.
Disabled and Minor Guardianships information.
FAQ Frequently Asked Questions