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Estate Planning Quick Tip

John Russell Oct. 12, 2015

Most people think they don’t need a Will.

But when you die,  everything you own in your own name alone will be subject to Probate.

While there are some ways to get around the Probate process even when people don’t have Wills, this generally only works when the person who has died doesn’t own real estate.  Even then, the limitations for transferring property out of a deceased person’s estate in Illinois caps out at $100,000.  In most cases, when someone’s total estate is worth more than $100K, or that person owned real estate, Illinois law requires a probate estate be opened.

Someone might argue that often times, even WITH a Will, there is a need for Probate.  But there are key differences.  One such difference is the need for a bond.  Wills routinely have clauses in them which allow the Executor to serve without a bond.

Without a Will, however, the Court will require the Estate’s representative obtain a bond. Essentially, this is an insurance policy, protecting the potential heirs of the Estate from a representative who might not act with care and diligence, or might actually steal from the Estate.

Depending on the size of the Estate, such a bond could cost the Estate hundreds, even thousands of dollars right off the top.

A simple Will with a clause allowing for the executor to serve without bond solves this problem. That money is saved!

While some folks would argue that going through the trouble of estate planning and preparing a Will is expensive, it actually can be quite cost effective.