Useful information to help guide
your probate process

In Chicago, Can I Reopen a Closed Probate Estate?

After someone dies, settling their estate becomes a matter of the utmost importance.

During the estate administration and probate process, an individual’s assets are distributed according to state and local laws, and in line with the decedent’s last wishes as established by their estate planning documents, such as their last will and testament.

While in many cases, the probate and estate administration process is a relatively straightforward matter, there are also circumstances where handling an estate isn’t so open and shut. And we mean that literally.

Under Illinois law, it is certainly possible to reopen a closed probate estate – provided that certain qualifications are met.

When and Why a Closed Probate Estate Can Be Reopened In Illinois

According to language in the Illinois Probate Act, which lays down the state’s broad and specific rules for probate, a closed probate estate can be reopened by an interested person at virtually any time to handle “unsettled” matters relating to the estate. There is no practical statute of limitations.

As such, there are numerous reasons why an estate may be reopened, including:

  • The discovery of a new debt
  • The discovery of a new asset, eligible for probate
  • The discovery of a new heir
  • A contest or litigation on behalf of a family member or another interested party

Reopening a Closed Probate Estate In Illinois

So, with that in mind, what does it take to reopen a probate estate thought to be closed and resolved?

If you or someone you know wishes to reopen a closed probate estate for any of the above reasons, there is a (fairly straightforward) process that must be followed.

First and foremost, the individual or party seeking to be the representative of the newly reopened estate must file a petition with the court; this petition must provide relevant background information on the situation, including any supporting documentation, if necessary, and, above all, make it clear why the estate should be reopened.

At the same time, the interested person who wishes to reopen the estate must typically notify the original estate representative (assuming that they are not one and the same).

At this point, the petition to reopen the closed probate estate will either be granted or rejected. Assuming that the court approves the petition and orders the estate reopened, the representative will then proceed with administering the estate, handling any of the issues involved and taking care to notify all interested parties, when applicable.

Once the contested or newly discovered matters are fully settled, the representative can then petition to close the estate once again.

Further Considerations

Anyone with further questions about any aspect of the probate and estate administration process – including the risk, rewards, and essential steps of reopening a closed probate estate – may find it beneficial to sit down and discuss matters with an experienced legal professional.

Don’t hesitate to reach out to our team to continue the conversation! From your initial consultation on, our talented and compassionate team will make sure you feel supported, informed, and empowered at every step of the way.

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