probate administration small estates

Not all estates have to go through a long and complicated probate process. If the estate is small, there are court procedures that can avoid those longer legal battles. Many times, this occurs when the deceased individual does not own many assets. 

If you would like to learn more about probate administration for small estates, here are a few facts that you will want to know. 

The Definition of a Small Estate

An estate must meet a few requirements to be considered small. The value of the property is limited, such as $25,000 or $100,000. For estates in Illinois, the estate must be valued at less than $100,000 and contain no real estate for it to be considered a small estate

Even if the estate’s total value exceeds the threshold, it may still qualify for small estate administration. If enough assets pass outside probate, the remaining value could be reduced below the threshold. 

Simplified Probate Administration

Many states use a streamlined process to handle estate over a certain value. For example, an interested party in Illinois can use a small estate affidavit. With that document, they can collect any debts owed to the decedent. Also, it summarizes the estate and specifies how it should be distributed. For the small estate affidavit to be legally binding, it must be notarized.

Following Illinois’ example, most estates must not have any land and assets valued over $100,000. Additionally, all creditors must be paid. Along with that, the administrator cannot contest any creditors’ claims. If there are any unpaid debts or claims against the estate, they must be resolved before filing an affidavit. 

Benefits of Small Estate Probate Administration

This process does have plenty of advantages over traditional probate. Small estate administration is much faster. As a result, it allows beneficiaries to access their inheritance quickly without multiple court hearings. Unlike probate, small estate administration is a simple process that can be completed with minimal intervention from the court. 

Settling a small estate is more cost-effective. There are minimal filing fees. That means it is much cheaper than traditional probate. This makes it an attractive option for those who want to save money on legal costs.

Drawback of This Process

Small estate probate administration is usually suitable for straightforward cases. However, it may not be the most appropriate option for everyone. If your case involves disputes among heirs, unclear wills, or complex financial arrangements, traditional probate might be a better option.  

One difference between small estate administration and traditional probate is the level of court oversight. While this speeds up the process, there’s less oversight to ensure everything is handled correctly. In turn, there is a higher risk of mistakes, which can lead to disputes. 

Another potential issue with small estate administration is that it may not adequately address outstanding debts or creditors. Creditors may not receive proper notice of the person’s passing. As a result, complications can occur later on in the process. 

That being said, the suitability of small estate administration depends on the specific circumstances. Consulting with a legal professional can help you determine whether this streamlined process is the right choice for your particular situation. 

What Is the Best Option?

When it comes time to settle an estate, you will want to consult with an estate planning lawyer. These professionals can look at your circumstances and determine the right options for you. Sometimes, your situation may not even qualify for probate administration for small estates, but there are other ways to help streamline the process for your loved ones. 

If you want an easier way for your loved ones to settle your estate, Bielski Chapman, LTD, can help. Please call our office at (312) 583-9430 to schedule a complimentary 15-minute consultation.