Transferring Real Property from an Illinois Estate

Find the Illinois laws for dealing with a decedent’s real property at 755 ILCS 5/20.

Probate is a court-supervised, lawful distribution of a deceased individual’s assets. The nature of the probate case depends on whether the decedent died testate (with a last will and testament) or intestate (without a will). In both cases, someone acts as the decedent’s personal representative and performs the tasks associated with settling the estate.

If there is a will, and it identifies a person (or people) to handle the distribution, the person is known as an executor. The court generally certifies the executor and issues documents called letters testamentary. The letters confirm the case’s probate status and authorize the executor to close out the estate according to the decedent’s wishes. Here, the decedent may also be called the testator.

The court appoints an administrator for intestate probate estates as well as those testate cases where the named executor is unable to serve. There are several types of administrators, and they require varying degrees of supervision. Once the administrator is approved, the court officer provides letters of administration. As with the letters testamentary, these confirm the probate case and authorize the administrator, but they also set out the necessary procedures for that specific case.

One common task for the person settling an estate is selling real property. As with other property transfers, the representative uses a deed to formalize the change in ownership, but such transactions require the use of either an executor’s or an administrator’s deed. These documents must meet the same form and content standards as so-called “regular” warranty or quitclaim deeds, and incorporate additional information related to the specific transaction. The details may vary based on the situation, but typically include facts about the decedent and the nature of the probate case. (765 ILCS 5/12)

After the deed is executed (signed in front of a notary), confirm it with the court if necessary, then file it in the public records for the Illinois county where the property is located.

Available Illinois Probate Documents:

This information applies to many, but not all, situations. Contact an attorney or the probate court officer responsible for the case with specific questions.