What does Probate Administration Cost in Illinois

Every estate planning lawyer tries to set up a plan that will avoid probate court.   Unfortunately, over half of Americans never prepare a will or trust agreement.     As a result, lots of people wind up in probate court.   Probate court is not as terrible as it is sometimes portrayed, but it can get expensive.   This article will talk about the costs and some ways that you can save money.

The Basics

Once you have a good idea of what is involved in probate of an estate, you will want to know what it will cost.   The majority of the cost will be attorney’s fees.   The person who will act as administrator or executor of the estate will need to hire an attorney to help them through the process.   The lawyer’s job is to protect the administrator by making sure that they follow the law.   As of 2019, probate attorneys in Chicago generally charge between $275 and $350/ hour to do this work.   The estate administration usually lasts for at least 11 months.  Most cases are completed within 24 months.   The total cost of administration depends on a few factors, including:  the complexity of the estate, the amount of money involved, and the efficiency of your lawyer.   A simple estate handled by an efficient lawyer may be concluded for $3500-4500.    Estates involving many bank or investment accounts, tax issues or real estate transactions can be much more expensive.

Other Costs

In addition to attorney’s fees, there are a few other expenses that can increase probate costs in Illinois.   If the deceased did not have a will, the court may require the administrator to post a bond.   The bond protects the estate against certain errors by the administrator.   The bond can cost several thousand dollars, and must be renewed annually.   When a person prepares a will, the will usually waives the bond requirement, and this cost can be avoided.

The administrator or executor can also charge a fee for their work.   This can also increase the costs of administering the estate.

Keeping Costs Down

Sometimes with a smaller estate, the administrator or executor is eager to keep fees to a minimum.   If the family is willing to do more of the legwork it can help to cut attorney’s fees.   For example, if the deceased had five bank accounts, the lawyer can write to each bank and ask them to close the accounts, then send each of the checks to the executor.    However, each of these transactions involves a number of letters, phone calls and follow up emails, etc. If the administrator is willing to go to the banks and close the accounts herself, it will save money for the estate.  If you express an interest in reducing fees, a good lawyer will help you find ways to do that.

Avoiding Costly Mistakes

Saving money on fees is good, but remember that your lawyer is there to help you avoid costly mistakes.   Hiring a qualified lawyer can help you to fix tax problems, reduce taxes, and make sure that all of the heirs receive what they are supposed to receive.   Getting these things wrong can be costly, so always make sure to hire a qualified lawyer.

Get your own affairs in order

Once you have helped your relative by processing their estate, its time to look at your own plans.   By making a plan now, you can make sure that your family doesn’t need to go through probate at all.   A good estate plan is much less expensive than probate and usually quite easy to set up. 

Feel free to contact us for more specific information about your situation.    We offer free consultations at our downtown office, by phone, or at a location convenient for you. 

Eric Parker is an attorney with the law firm of Stotis & Baird, Chartered. Eric’s office is in Chicago, but he routinely meets with clients in the Chicago suburbs, including Evanston, Wilmette, Skokie, Glenview Lincolnwood and others.  The firm represents families in estate, probate, guardianship, wills, trusts and elder law matters. You can reach Eric at eparker@stotis-baird.com. Get more information about the firm at www.stotisandbaird.com.