Probate is the legal process that distributes a deceased individual’s assets to heirs or beneficiaries. In Illinois, like many other states, this process can be time-consuming, expensive and complicated. Therefore, many individuals choose to use strategies that can help them avoid probate, making the transition of assets smoother and more efficient.
You can avoid probate in Illinois through several methods. These strategies bypass the probate process, saving time, money and stress for the loved ones of the deceased person.
Payable-on-death accounts and deeds
You can designate bank accounts, retirement accounts and securities as payable on death (POD). When you name a beneficiary on these accounts, the assets transfer directly to that individual upon your death, thereby avoiding probate. In the same vein, using a transfer-on-death (TOD) deed for real estate allows property ownership to transfer automatically upon your death.
Joint ownership of property serves as another effective strategy to avoid probate. If you hold property with rights of survivorship, the surviving owner inherits the share of the deceased owner automatically, bypassing probate.
You can create a living trust to avoid probate. You need to transfer the ownership of your assets to a trust and name a successor trustee who will manage these assets upon your death. Assets within the trust will not go through probate.
Small estate provision
Illinois law allows estates with a total value below a certain threshold to avoid probate through the small estate provision. If your estate qualifies, you can manage the distribution of assets through a simpler process known as a small estate affidavit.
Although probate offers a clear, court-supervised process for settling an estate, many consider the associated costs and time a burden. By using these probate-avoidance strategies, you can plan ahead, easing the asset transition process for your loved ones.