How do you reopen an Illinois probate estate?

Sometimes, it is necessary to reopen an Illinois probate estate after it has been closed.  While there are many reasons why a probate estate might need to be reopened (such as a newly discovered debt or family litigation), one of the more common reasons for the reopening of an estate is a newly discovered probate asset.  So, how do you reopen a probate estate in Illinois when there is a newly discovered asset?  Let’s find out.


Petitioning the Court to Reopen the Probate Estate


In order to reopen an Illinois probate estate, the person seeking to be the representative of the estate will need to file a petition to reopen the estate.  A sample petition from a real Illinois court case involving a two-decade old probate estate with a piece of unresolved real estate is as follows:




    STATE OF ILLINOIS                       COUNTY OF _________


Estate of                                                                    )                                  


_______________,                                       )           No.                    


            Deceased                                          )                                              


                                                 PETITION TO REOPEN ESTATE


NOW COMES _____________ (hereinafter “Petitioner”), and respectfully petitions the Honorable Court to reopen the Estate of ______________, Deceased, saying in support hereof as follows:


  1. In 1992, this Honorable Court opened this estate, admitted the Will of __________________ to probate, and appointed _______________ as the Independent Executor of his estate.  Pursuant to the Order Declaring Heirship entered by this Court on July 22, 1992, ____________ died with no known heirs of his estate.
  2. As stated in the Will, the sole beneficiary of this estate was ______________.  A copy of the Will of ______________ is attached as Exhibit A
  1. The estate was properly administered, except for a piece of real estate located at __________________, Illinois.  This real estate was never properly deeded out of the estate to ____________.
  1. The sole beneficiary has since passed away on March 20, 2008. 
  1. The Petitioner is the named Executor under the Will of [the sole beneficiary], dated September 7, 1988.
  1. Pursuant to 755 ILCS 5/24-9, an estate may be reopened to permit the administration of an unsettled portion of the estate on the petition of any interested person.


WHEREFORE, the Petitioner respectfully prays that this Court issue an Order reopening the Estate of _____________, issuing letters of office to the Petitioner as the Independent Administrator with Will Annexed of the Estate, and for any further relief that this court deems just and reasonable.  




                                                            Petitioner's signature


As can be seen with this Petition, it is important to detail the background facts of the case and the reasons for why the probate estate needs to be reopened.


Also, if the interested party seeking to reopen the estate is someone other than the original representative, then the interested party must typically notify (or otherwise get the consent of) the original representative of the estate.  If the party seeking to reopen the estate is the original representative of the estate, reopening the estate should be faster and easier.


Administering and Reclosing the Reopened Estate


If the petition to reopen the Illinois probate estate is granted, the court-appointed representative can then proceed with administering the reopened estate.  Depending on the issues involved, this could mean retitling newly discovered probate assets, resolving newly discovered debts, distributing estate assets that escheated to the State of Illinois to a newly discovered heir, or resolving a contested matter related to the estate.  Once this has been done, and all interested parties to the reopened estate have been properly notified and/or approved of the overall administration of the reopened estate, the representative can petition the probate court to reclose the probate estate.


Is there a statute of limitations in Illinois for reopening a closed probate estate?


In Illinois, an estate can be reopened at any point to resolve outstanding issues with the estate.  According to 755 ILCS 5/24-9 of the Illinois Probate Act, it states:


Reopening estate.) If a decedent's estate has been closed and the representative discharged, it may be reopened to permit the administration of a newly discovered asset or of an unsettled portion of the estate on the petition of any interested person.


Thus, an Illinois probate estate can be reopened at any point to handle any “unsettled” issues with the estate.


If you have questions about reopening a probate estate, give our office a call at (630) 898-4789 to set up a free initial consultation with an experienced Chicagoland area probate attorney.  You can also email us at if you would prefer to communicate with the attorney via email. 


We currently help families with probate matters in Kane, DuPage, Kendall, Will, and Cook County.  We will consider probate cases in other Chicago area counties as well.

























The Law Office of Kevin Williams, 2295 Bannister Lane, Aurora, IL 60504, (630) 898-4789

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