Paralegal Mentor's Blog

July 9, 2010

What Is Probate all about in Illinois?

Filed under: Paralegal Mentor — Paralegal Mentor @ 6:49 am

 Probate in Illinois

If you are currently dealing with or about to deal with, the Illinois state court system with respect to a probate or estate issue; the following information should be helpful to you. Probate law governs estate matters when someone who, such as a family member or other loved one, passes away. These laws insure that creditors are paid properly and that assets are distributed correctly to the “heirs,” or the descendant(s) of the estate. What is the purpose of Probate? Probate is the legal process that deals with estate assets and property, with regard to heirs and creditors. Probate begins with a “petition” to open the estate and name a personal representative who is responsible for the administration of the deceased’s property. The next step is when an official Notice of Creditors is printed in a local newspaper and Notice of Administration is sent to other involved parties. Creditors then have a set amount of time to file their claims from the first date of publication. Then the personal representative can pay the debt and distribute the remaining estate. Finally, a petition for discharge is filed, and the estate is closed. Illinois Probate Law As with probate in every state, probate in the state of Illinois requires that one be familiar with the Illinois probate process; that the people managing your estate and inheritance matters are well aware of exactly how probate should be conducted, timelines associated with filing probate petitions, critical probate documents, and so on. As far as wills are concerned in Illinois every will needs to be executed in writing, signed by the testator or person the testator elects to do so. Additionally, there has to be two or more witnesses if the will is to be considered “valid”. Issues surrounding awards for the spouse and child of a decedent are extremely important during probate in Illinois. Probate courts in the state of Illinois determine exactly how estates and assets are distributed during probate, as stipulated by the will and/or wishes of the deceased. Documentation and formal letters associated with the “administration” of an estate in probate in Illinois must be accurate and must be executed in a manner deemed appropriate by the probate courts of Illinois. For example, estates in probate in Illinois must understand the importance of each detail involved with “attestation” of the Will. Obviously, the advice and counsel of the attorney handling your probate will be critical from the beginning to the end of the probate process. Folks dealing with probate in Illinois also need to understand the importance of the fact that the children and spouse the decedent receive “awards” in such a fashion as the Illinois probate court deems appropriate, for 9 months after the passing of the decedent. Sometimes these awards are viewed as a financial allowance to help Illinois families, until the estate has gone fully through probate and the inheritance funds have been distributed. If there is no spouse involved, the assets of the estate are distributed to the decedent’s children, utilizing a list of priorities that involved laws governing half-blood relations, children born out of wedlock, and so forth. Petitioners are given thirty days to mail a copy of their petition to each person named in the estate. The petition also needs to mention when and where the hearing is to take place. Other documents to be concerned with during probate in Illinois include waivers, notices, and revocations of letters of administration and issuances of new letters of administration. All legal documents during probate need to be written in compliance with the standards of the Illinois probate court. Illinois Probate Resources Illinois has no separate probate court.

The Circuit Court has jurisdiction over civil cases & juvenile cases.

Circuit Court of Illinois Inheritance Taxes: 35 ILCS 405

Illinois Estate and Generation-Skipping Transfer Tax Act


July 8, 2010

Paralega Mentor

Filed under: Paralegal Mentor — Paralegal Mentor @ 9:46 am

Jackie Paulson graduated from college and received a Paralegal Degree in 2009. Since then I have interned and worked in law offices.  As I attended college I raised my daughter, worked, and had to move.  Having done this I maintained a 3.55 GPA. I have owned and operated a small Barber Shop as an Entrepreneur and Customer Service for 12 years. 

From my experience it is not easy to get a Paralegal job as most law offices want Experienced Paralegals.  The older Law office that does things “the old school” ways are not aware of the benefits of a Paralegal graduate of the 21st Century. 

I have yet to find a Paralegal job and not a Legal Assistant job.  To me, there is a difference.  Several Definitions to make you more familiar with the Paralegal:

From the American Bar Association: “A legal assistant or paralegal is a person qualified by education, training or work experience who is employed or retained by a lawyer, law office, corporation, governmental agency or other entity who performs specifically delegated substantive legal work for which a lawyer is responsible.” Under this definition, the legal responsibility for a paralegal’s work rests directly and solely upon the lawyer.

From the National Federation of Paralegal Associations (NFPA) [USA]: “A Paralegal is a person, qualified through education, training or work experience to perform substantive legal work that requires knowledge of legal concepts and is customarily, but not exclusively, performed by a lawyer. This person may be retained or employed by a lawyer, law office, governmental agency or other entity or may be authorized by administrative, statutory or court authority to perform this work. Substantive shall mean work requiring recognition, evaluation, organization, analysis, and communication of relevant facts and legal concepts.”

From the National Association of Legal Assistants (NALA) [USA]: “Legal assistants, also known as paralegals, are a distinguishable group of persons who assist attorneys in the delivery of legal services. Through formal education, training and experience, legal assistants have knowledge and expertise regarding the legal system and substantive and procedural law which qualify them to do work of a legal nature under the supervision of an attorney.” In 2001, NALA adopted the ABA’s definition of a paralegal or legal assistant as an addition to its definition.

From the American Association for Paralegal Education (AAfPE): “Paralegals perform substantive and procedural legal work as authorized by law, which work, in the absence of the paralegal, would be performed by an attorney. Paralegals have knowledge of the law gained through education, or education and work experience, which qualifies them to perform legal work. Paralegals adhere to recognized ethical standards and rules of professional responsibility.”

There are five things a paralegal cannot do.

One, a paralegal cannot give legal advice. Only a licensed attorney should do that. Two, a paralegal cannot develop the attorney-client relationship. It just makes sense – the attorney-client relationship should be between those two people, otherwise it would be called the law firm representative – client relationship. Three, the paralegal cannot sign papers on behalf of the client. Only the attorney can attest his or her name to those legal documents. Four, the paralegal cannot represent a client in court. While many paralegals could probably do so quite well, it just isn’t legal. And, five, the paralegal cannot set and collect legal fees. Only the attorney can do that.

Since I have graduated in 2009 I find that most Law Offices want a BA Degree and 2-5 years of experience as a Paralegal.  Now tell me how can I get a job even though I have interned and worked in small law offices but have little experience?  Each Attorney had to start somewhere when they first started out in the Legal Field.

Paralegal Mentor’s Blog Jackie Paulson

Filed under: Paralegal Mentor — Paralegal Mentor @ 9:11 am

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