We all know that it is profoundly difficult to cope with the death of a loved one.  We find ourselves awash in sorrow.  We grieve.  We weep.  We mourn.

Yet in our sadness, we know that we must go on.  And we know that we must bring closure to all of our dear one's worldly matters.

Sometimes, people plan for this before death.  They have trusts and similar arrangements. Apart from the filing of wills with local clerks of court, there usually is no involvement with our judicial system.

Sometimes, people either don't plan, or don't plan very well.  Sometimes, dispositions of their property must be guided through the courts.


Infrequently, there are times when no one is available to manage the process. Perhaps there are no known relatives or friends.  Perhaps people are too anguished to serve.  Perhaps they feel that they don't have enough knowledge of finances.  Or perhaps there's a conflicted family situation, and a neutral third party needs to be brought in.

Fortunately, Illinois law provides for fallbacks.  One of these fallbacks is the designation of a public administrator in each of our 102 counties. 

As a last resort, public administrators can be appointed by judges to step in and marshal assets, liquidate property, pay outstanding debts, and distribute whatever remains.

Scott Summers, an attorney who concentrates in probate, is the public administrator for McHenry County, Illinois.  He serves concurrently as the county's public guardian.   For more information on Mr. Summers' service as public guardian, please see www.McHenryPublicGuardian.org.