The Basics of a Will: What You Need to Know!
Failing to have a will can result in intestate laws controlling your assets after you die.
Whether you have $100 in the bank or $100,000 in the bank, a will is something that every individual should consider. While some people choose to supplement their will with a trust, this isn’t necessary for most individuals. Failing to have a will can result in intestate laws controlling your assets after you die.
Someone who dies without a will is called “intestate,” which invokes the strict laws of intestacy. Generally speaking, in Illinois, if you have a surviving spouse as well as a descendant, each receive half of your estate; if you have only a surviving spouse or a descendant, he or she would receive the entire estate. If you have neither a surviving spouse nor a descendant, other relatives, including parents, siblings, and grandparents, will inherit depending on the closeness of the relation.
In Illinois, there are six basic requirements to form a valid will:
1. Age of 18
The testator must be over the age of 18.
2. Testator must be of “sound mind and memory”
Meaning that they’re cognizant of the nature of executing the will.
3. Must be signed
The will must either be signed by the testator or by someone else in the testator’s name, in the testator’s presence, by the direction of the testator.
4. Witnessed by two people
In accordance with state law, the will must be witnessed by two people who should not be beneficiaries under the will in order to avoid any appearance of impropriety.
5. Must be in writing
This one is sort of a “duh”....but the will has to be in writing; in this day and age I would say 99% are typed or printed.
6. Must contain beneficiaries
The will must contain beneficiaries to receive the items of the testator.
And that’s it! Those are the very basic requirements behind the formation of valid will in Illinois. Changing a will has the same basic requirements, most importantly being that the updates are executed by the testator and witnessed by two disinterested parties.
A will can be revoked in four ways:
1. By the testator or someone under the direction of the testator destroying the will.
2. By executing a later will that revokes previous ones.
3. By executing a later will that conflicts with the previously executed will, or
4. By executing an attestation that the will is terminated by the testator.
Do you have questions about your estate plan? The professionals at Hampleman Law, LLC are well-versed in estate plans that contain wills, powers of attorney (both durable and healthcare), and even complex estate matters that require revocable and irrevocable trusts. Please contact us today for an initial, no-cost consultation. We offer most simple estate plans at a flat rate with transparent billing!