My husband's father died (in Cook County, IL) after a long illness without leaving a will. He didn't own a house and we don't know if he had any accounts/assets other than a bank account that he accessed to pay bills. He was VERY private and didn't discuss whether he had any other assets. If there were records of other assets, they have not been found. He was divorced and my husband is an only child.
How do we determine if there are assets necessitating probate? Is probate necessary even if there are no assets? No idea where to start!
1 Answer from Attorneys
Assuming your husband is the only close family member, he should gain access to his father's dwelling unit and arrange to clean it out and dispose of the belongings inside. Unless his father had a roommate or life partner this should be easy to arrange with the landlord. Then, look out for copies of tax returns (can lead to income information), bank statements and other financial records in the house or apartment. Your son should visit his father's post office with a copy of the death certificate and arrange for the father's mail to be forwarded to him. Any financial assets worth less than $100,000 can be transferred to your son with a small estate affidavit (paperwork that eliminates the need for a court proceeding for small estates with no real estate) unless there is a beneficiary designation appointing some other party to receive assets on the owner's death. Automobile titles can be transferred with the use of the affidavit and a local Secretary of State facility can be very helpful. Phone calls should be made to terminate utilities and other services or subscriptions and arrangements made with the landlord for an exit date.
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