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What Are the Legal Requirements for a Last Will and Testament?

Posted on in Last Will & Testament

IL estate lawyerWriting your own will can seem like an intimidating process. Before starting, it is important to be fully aware of the purpose of the will, the will’s consequences, and the legal requirements that must be met. Take some time to study the needed steps required to fulfill your wishes after death and make the best decisions for yourself.

What Is the Purpose of a Will?

After death, a will allows you to control the distribution of your assets. Included in the will is the nomination of a trusted executor who will carry this distribution task out for you. Among other duties, this executor will also appoint a guardian to any minor children you may have. In essence, wills are designed to protect your family and your property. The Illinois state “intestacy” laws will come into effect if you do not create a will before you pass. Intestacy laws distribute your assets to your closest relatives.

What Legal Requirements Must Be Met for Your Will to Be Valid?

There are two main requirements for your will to be legal in the state of Illinois.

  • You must be at least 18 years of age
  • You must be of sound mind and memory.

To meet the standards of “sound mind and memory” in Illinois is not an imposing challenge, however, it does require you to have a thorough understanding of what your will entails and its implied consequences. You need to fully comprehend your assets, who you want to gift them to, and the exact purpose of your will.

Additionally, legal wills demand specific signature requisites. The creator of the will (testator) must sign their will in the presence of two witnesses. To validate the will, the two present witnesses must also sign the will. If the testator is, for whatever reason, unable to sign their will, they may designate someone to sign on their behalf.

These requirements also apply to handwritten wills. However, any handwritten modifications must be executed in the same manner as the original will, including the mentioned signature requirements. Handwritten wills are often discouraged because of the increased likelihood of errors and misperceived intent. It is important to have a full understanding of last will and testament requirements before making any modifications and adjustments on your own.

Requirements for a valid will in Illinois may seem very clear and concise. In reality, they are very vague and are not personally suited for each individual’s unique circumstances. Attorneys can make this process much more secure and avoid any mistakes that may invalidate your will. Not only will an attorney be able to elaborate on all of your options, but they may find that your case requires further estate tools, such as a trust.

Contact a Wheaton, IL Estate Attorney Today

Protecting your life’s work and making sure all is taken care of after you are gone is an incredible responsibility. Creating a will that successfully upholds your wishes is possible with the help of a DuPage County estate attorney. Contact Stock, Carlson & Duff LLC for a free consultation by calling 630-665-2500.

 

Sources:

https://www.ilga.gov/legislation/ilcs/ilcs4.asp?ActID=2104&ChapterID=60&SeqStart=5300000&SeqEnd=6800000

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