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Act now for the benefit of your heirs. Taking steps now will prevent excess stress and expense of probate for those you leave behind.

Probate is the process through which the assets of a deceased individual are disbursed. Statutes control how the assets will be distributed. As with all legal cases, the probate process can take an extended period of time to be resolved. There are a variety of methods you can utilize now in order to prevent certain assets from having to go through the legal probate process. Under the Illinois Trust and Payable on Death Accounts Act, a person can execute a form with his or her bank or other financial institution to name a beneficiary for one’s financial account. 205 ILCS 625. According to the statute, an account beneficiary can be a living person, a trust, a corporation, or a charitable organization, among other entities. Once the appropriate paperwork is completed with the financial institution, the account is then held as a trust account. Once the account holder passes away, the beneficiary generally only needs to provide the account claim form and a valid death certificate for the account holder to the financial institution in order to inherit the assets in the account. The account assets would not need to go through the probate process. Under the Illinois Residential Real Property Transfer on Death Instrument Act, a house or other real property can be passed to a beneficiary without having to go through the probate process. 755 ILCS 27. In Illinois, a beneficiary is a person that receives residential real estate under a transfer on death instrument. A person is further defined to include individuals, corporations, trusts, partnerships, and other entities. In order to accomplish this type a transfer, a transfer on death instrument must be completed that contains certain language, such as that transfer to the beneficiary will occur at the property owner’s death, and the instrument must be properly recorded with the recorder’s office. Once the property owner passes away, the beneficiary files a notice of death affidavit in order to confirm the title transfer should occur. By using this mechanism, a property owner can avoid the probate process for his or her qualifying real property. Attorneys can assist clients with both of these procedures to avoid probate and to provide clients with more control over their assets. Most importantly, we can help you make it easier for your loved ones in the future.