Final Probate Steps: Closing the Estate

  • Robert S. Thomas,
  •   Probate
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The role of an executor or administrator of an estate can be stressful and time consuming; yet, it is a role of indisputable importance. Moreover, every step of the administration process and probate case is important. Failure to comply with the probate statutes or federal law can create costly delays, or open the executor up to personal liability for breach of their duties. There really are no shortcuts. That is why it is important to properly close an estate.

Obtaining Proper Documentation

The ultimate duties of an executor or administrator are to: (1) settle all debts of the estate; and (2) distribute and transfer property to heirs and legatees in accordance with the decedent’s wishes. As part of the final steps of a probate case, the executor must demonstrate that these duties have been satisfied.

Regarding the estate’s debts, the executor should demonstrate compliance by obtaining proof that every debt has been paid or that a settlement has been reached as to a debt. The executor will later have to verify that all claims have been resolved or are barred, so keeping these records will help if there is a challenge.

In addition, for heirs and legatees, the executor must file signed receipts that all payments and distributions have been made and received. For any heir or legatee whose interest is diminished by executor and attorneys fees, the receipt must explicitly approve of these fees.

Preparing the Final Report

Significantly, Illinois probate statute 755 ICLS 5/28-11 requires that to be discharged from their duties, executors must file a final report with the court. This report must be a verified document that is served upon all interested persons (with certain exceptions). It must contain the following information:

  • That each debt has been addressed and settled in the proper order of priority, or whether a debt has been disallowed or barred.
  • That all estate taxes have been paid.
  • That all administrative fees and expenses have been paid.
  • That any remaining assets have been distributed properly.
  • That all attorneys fees and fees of the executor have been approved.

All interested parties who are entitled to the final report have 42 days to respond, otherwise, the probate court can discharge the executor.

An Attorney Can Help You

If you are the executor or administrator of an estate, you need a probate lawyer to help you navigate this intricate area of law. My team and I can handle estates of all sizes through the probate courts. I have been a probate and tax attorney for over two decades and have a Master of Law Degree (LLM) in Taxation, and a license to practice in the United States Tax Court. Contact The Law Offices of Robert S. Thomas at 847-392-5893 to schedule an appointment or visit our website today.

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