1) Illinois law is that a will, (even a pour over will) which is associated with a living trust needs to be filed with the county within 30 days of the date of death. This does not mean that a probate estate needs to be open.
2) Small Estate Affidavits are used to transfer assets in an estate without the need for probate. However the gross value of the estate can not exceed $100,000.00. So if you need to transfer assets of the decendent and the estate value is less than $100,000.00, then a Small Estate Affidavit is the correct tool for that job. Otherwise if the estate value is greater than $100,000.00 then a probate is ussually required. The only exception is if the only property is real estate. Then for 2% of the value of the real estate we can get a bond and not open a probate estate.
3) Yes, it can be done without an attorney. I attached a link to a small estate affidavit for you.
I hope this is helpful.
a Will must be filed, according to the probate act, 30 days after death. Although there is no time limit on a small estate affidavit, it is advisable to have an attorney prepare one for you. First, most banks don't accept one that has not been drafted by an attorney - in fact, Most want you to visit their offices/branches with an attorney so they have some assurance that 1. a professional has taken a gander - look/see at your proposed distribution; 2. they have someone to follow up in the event you drop the ball along the way....3. They have someone who can interact with their legal department and who has a basic understandng of the underlying legal issues. There is also a second trend at work and and that is increasingly, financial institutions of every size and type are requiring that you use their in house forms and not the guides provided at the county clerk's office. They want affidavit made elsewhere to comply with their format or be on their forms. They can also require that an attorney prepare it or sing off on it before they accept it from you.