Wills in illinois
Basic requirements of a will
A will is a specific legal instrument defined by the State of Illinois. The definition of a will can be found at 755 ILCS 5/4-1. As is apparent from the length of that statute, there are many requirements to follow in order to make sure that a will is valid. The basic requirements of any valid will are that the document must be typed and signed in the presence of two witnesses. Additionally, the testator (the person who is writing the will) must be of sound mind and memory. If any of these requirements are not met then the will is subject to challenge. It is very important that a qualified Chicago Will Attorney draft your will and oversee the signing process in order to ensure that your will becomes a valid part of your estate plan.
When used as part of a larger estate plan, a pourover will is usually what is drafted. This simply means that the will has a clause that provides for the estate to “pour over” into an associated trust. As an example of how this works, imagine that your estate (all of your property) can fit into a large glass pitcher. Upon your death, the executor of the will holds the pitcher and then pours it into a mason jar (a trust). The water is no longer in the pitcher rather it is now contained by the mason jar so there is no more use for the pitcher and it can be discarded. The trust then contains a series of instructions on how the property it holds will be dealt with. The need for this may not be apparent right away but it becomes extremely important in the context of a larger estate plan. Our Chicago Will Attorneys take time to explain this process to ensure that your assets go where you want them to go.
Living Will In Illinois
A living will should not be confused with a will that provides for disposition of your assets after death. A living will is governed by a completely different set of rules which can be found a 755 ILCS 35/1. This kind of will describes what should happen to you should you become incapacitated during your lifetime. When planning an estate, it is important to have a living will to account for the possibility that you may spend some time not being able to make important financial and healthcare decisions. Usually, a living will can name the same person that will be the executor of your will or the trustee of your trust as the person to make the necessary healthcare and financial decisions for you. Sometimes it is necessary to designate one person to make healthcare decisions while another will make all of the financial decisions. Either way, our trusted Chicago Will Attorneys will help you to make the decision on whether you need a full living will or simply a power of attorney.
When a will is not properly prepared and signed, the State of Illinois has a two part process to go through to challenge a will. The first part is called the “formal proof of will” and the second is the official “will contest.” At the formal proof of will the Court is mainly concerned with whether the document was signed and witnessed properly. As the name suggests, this is a formality for most will challenges. Assuming that the Court deems the will a properly signed document, the next step is a will contest. At the will contest, a person challenging the validity of the will can raise a number of issues including a lack of testamentary capacity and undue influence. The process of contesting a will can be quite involved and require testimony from a number of different witnesses to prove the case. If a will is successfully challenged then the default rules of succession for the State of Illinois will govern how the estate is divided.