Useful information to help guide
your probate process

Understanding how the process of granting Power of Attorney (POA) works is a hugely important part of the estate process – and one that many people tend to have misconceptions about.

To illustrate why, let’s start with a thought experiment. Of these individuals, do you think there’s one who doesn’t need to sign a power of attorney?

- Person A is a single, successful small business owner in her mid-40s, with no immediate medical or financial concerns

- Person B is only 23, but has recently been diagnosed with a major illness, one that may prove debilitating or fatal

- Person C has been happily married for 30 years, with two kids. His 80th birthday is coming up, but he has no pressing health concerns

In each of these situations, these people are in a position in which they’ll need a power of attorney.

Let’s explore this concept in a little more depth.

What Is a Power of Attorney, or POA?

When we talk about “probate,” what we’re referring to is a legal process wherein a court presides over the management of a deceased person’s property and assets. In going through probate, the goal is to ensure that all of the deceased’s debts are paid, and that all of his or her property and assets are transferred to the appropriate parties, in line with their wishes.

To help determine the distribution of the deceased’s assets, the most important first step is to determine if they had a will. From there, we will be able to know if probate is needed to administer the estate.

Here in Illinois, the law states that if a person left a will, then that will must be filed in that person’s county of residence within 30 days of their passing.

Usually, if there is no will, a probate estate will be needed and the laws of Illinois will govern the distribution of the estate; in some cases, even if the deceased did leave a valid will, there may be certain assets that still need to go through probate.

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