Descent and Distribution

Descent and Distribution rules govern heirship in Illinois.  Generally, the rules of descent and distribution are:

  • If the decedent died leaving a surviving spouse and one or more descendants (children, grandchildren), then 1/2 of the estate goes to the surviving spouse and 1/2 to the descendants per stirpes;

 

  • If the decedent died and the spouse was predeceased, then the entire estate passes to the descendants stirpes;

 

  • If there is a surviving spouse and no descendants, then the entire estate passes to the surviving spouse;

 

  • If there is no surviving spouse or descendant (unmarried, childless decedent), the estate is divided and distributed to the parents and siblings of the decedent, with the siblings’ shares distributed per stirpes;

 

  • If there is no surviving spouse, descendants, parent, sibling or descendent of a sibling, but there is a grandparent or a descendant of a grandparent, then 1/2 of the estate goes to the maternal grandparents or all to the survivor of them, and 1/2 in equal shares goes to the paternal grandparent or the survivor.  If no grandparent is living on a given side, than that half passes to that grandparent’s descendants per stirpes;

 

  • If there is no surviving spouse, descendants, parent, sibling or descendent of a sibling, or a grandparent, but there is a great-grandparent or descendant of a great-grandparent, then the estate passes to the in equal shares to the maternal great-grandparent and descendants per stirpes, and to the paternal great-grandparent and descendents per stirpes;

 

  • If none of the above-mentioned individuals are living, then the estate passes to the “nearest kindred” in equal degree (requires the administrator to establish that none of the decedent’s eight great-grandparents have a surviving descendant);

 

  • If no heirs can be located, then the estate will “escheat” to either the county or the state.

Clearly, the rules of descent and distribution cover any and all potential circumstances which may apply to the heirs of a decedent.

End of an era…………Chicago, Illinois 2012