Dying Without a Last Will and Testament in Illinois

Learn About the State's Laws of Intestate Succession

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When an Illinois resident dies without having made a Last Will and Testament, the intestacy succession laws found in the Illinois statutes will dictate who inherits the deceased person's probate estate. Below is a summary of the Illinois intestacy succession laws in various situations.

Deceased Person Is Survived by a Spouse And/Or Descendants

Here is what will happen under the Illinois intestacy laws if the deceased person is survived by a spouse and/or descendants (children, grandchildren, great-grandchildren, etc.):

  • Survived by a spouse and descendants - In this case, the surviving spouse will inherit one-half (1/2) of the deceased spouse's probate estate and the children will inherit the remaining one-half (1/2), per stirpes.
  • Survived by a spouse and no descendants - In this case, the surviving spouse will inherit the deceased spouse's entire probate estate.
  • Survived by descendants and no spouse - In this case, the deceased person's descendants will inherit the entire probate estate, per stirpes.

Deceased Person is Not Survived by a Spouse or Descendants Here is what will happen under the Illinois intestacy laws if the deceased person is not survived by a spouse or any descendants (children, grandchildren, great-grandchildren, etc.):

  • Survived by parents, siblings and/or descendants of a deceased sibling - In this case, the parents and siblings will equally inherit the deceased person's probate estate, but if one parent is deceased then the surviving parent will inherit a double share and if a predeceased sibling is survived by descendants, then the descendants will inherit the predeceased sibling's share, per stirpes.
  • Not survived by parents, brothers, sisters, or descendants of brothers or sisters - In this case the probate estate will be divided so that one-half (1/2) will go to the deceased person's paternal family and the other half (1/2) will go to the deceased person's maternal family; provided that if there are no survivors on the paternal side of the family or no survivors on the maternal side of the family, then the entire probate estate will go to the other side of the deceased person's family.
  • Not survived by any family members - In the unlikely circumstance that the deceased person is not survived by any family members as described above, then the entire probate estate will escheat to the State of Illinois.

What You Will Inherit From an Illinois Intestate Estate

What will you inherit if your relative dies without leaving a Last Will and Testament and the relative was a resident of Illinois or owned real estate located in Illinois? Even if you determine based on the information above that you are entitled to an intestate share of your relative's estate, you may very well not inherit anything. Why? Because your relative may have left all non-probate property or the debts your relative owed at the time of death may exceed the value of the probate estate which will make the estate insolvent.

If you are not sure of your legal rights as an intestate heir in Illinois, then consult with an Illinois probate attorney to be sure.

Taxes on an Illinois Inheritance

  • Illinois is one of a handful of U.S. states that still collect an estate tax. Aside from this, your inheritance may be subject to an estate tax at the federal level. You may also owe income taxes (state and/or federal) on certain types of assets you inherit.

The information contained in this article is not tax or legal advice and is not a substitute for such advice. State and federal laws change frequently, and the information in this article may not reflect your own state’s laws or the most recent changes to the law. For current tax or legal advice, please consult with an accountant or an attorney.