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Do we lawyer up?
May 24, 2012 3:59 PM   Subscribe

Do we need a lawyer to deal with a small probate estate case in Illinois?

My father passed away in California 2 weeks ago. He had been living there with family off and on for the last 5 months while undergoing cancer treatment. He died unexpectedly and we're now trying to sort out his estate.

He lived in Illinois. He had a simple will that names beneficiaries and one of his daughters as executrix of the estate. He didn't have much in the way of assets: he rented an apartment, his car was a pile of junk and most of his belongings are of sentimental value only. His had a checking account of <$15,000) and his wife (my mom) is listed as a co-signer on the account. She is using that to pay outstanding bills and settle any accounts. There was a trust set up by my parents but he never assigned any assets to it so it's empty as far as his estate is concerned.

We've discovered that he had an online trading account valued at about $2,000 but didn't name a beneficiary on the account so the account holder says the only way to liquidate the account is by opening a probate estate with the courts or filing a small estate affidavit. One of the two would need to be done to allow the executor to have control of his account.

However, we're not sure it's worth pursuing if the cost of filing all the paperwork and hiring a lawyer might be more than the account is worth. Additionally, none of us wants to hassle too much with lawyers and paperwork if it's not worthwhile. We'll be going out to his apartment in the next few weeks to clean it up and see if there are any other financial surprises but my dad was a pretty simple guy. The goal here is not financial gain for his family but to make sure everything is tied up and his (unwritten) wishes are carried out.

Can we handle this ourselves or should we get a lawyer to do it or is it a small enough amount that getting a lawyer isn't worth it? For what it's worth, there is no difficult family dynamic and I don't expect any disagreements with how to move forward.
posted by anonymous to Law & Government (3 answers total)
 
In terms of that one online trading account, If everything is as you say, no lawyer, not worth it.

I'm dealing with the exact same thing with my father, but in CA. The account holder wants to deal with a lawyer, but by law they have to deal with you.

Here's the small estate affidavit you need.
posted by miles1972 at 5:31 PM on May 24, 2012 [1 favorite]


It's always best to consult with a lawyer, even if you're going to DIY, just to get advice. The cost, if the small-estate approach is the way to go, should not be all that high.
posted by yclipse at 5:15 AM on May 25, 2012


One thing that does come to mind: was California or Illinois his permanent home? (Think driver's license, voting registration.)
posted by yclipse at 5:19 AM on May 25, 2012


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