Many people have strong feelings about how their assets should be distributed after they’ve died. A will is one vehicle through which you communicate your wishes. It is an estate planning tool that provides instructions that a designated person can clearly interpret so they can distribute your assets.
In Illinois, your will must be printed. Handwritten wills are not allowed. You must be over 18 to create a valid will in Illinois, and two competent witnesses must sign it. The document must be dated.
Even though making a will is straightforward, many people put off making one because it brings up feelings about death and dying. Although no one wants to think about when they’ll no longer be around, planning for the inevitable can give you peace of mind and make it easier for your friends and family. Commonly, having a will is the way to get this done, but as with many other things in life, there are pros and cons.
Pros of Having a Will
Written wills have been in existence since the time of the Roman Empire. Now, as then, they are used to help ensure an orderly property transfer. Simple wills can be prepared quickly, and in some cases in Illinois, even a handwritten will is valid when executed correctly.
You might think a will is only necessary when you have a high net worth. However, you need a will if you have any assets you may want to pass to someone else or have children that require a guardian.
If you die intestate, that is, without a will, the laws of the state of Illinois will determine what happens to your assets. The laws may not distribute your property as you would prefer.
In your will, you will designate an executor. This is an individual who follows the terms of the will and ensures that your wishes are carried out. When you choose an executor, you should be sure to choose someone you know will honor your wishes and will not be swayed by arguments from family or friends.
A will allows you to formalize your wishes so your assets are passed to the people you wish to have them. If you have children under the age of 18, you can also choose a guardian for your children and document your wishes in your will. You can also set aside money to help support them. Guardianship of your minor children is a decision you should make. If you have no will, you leave that decision up to the state.
It’s important to remember that as your life situation changes or you acquire more assets, you can amend your will or revoke it. These documents can be changed up until you die. Under Illinois law, there is no limit to the number of times you can amend or revoke your will during your lifetime.
Potential Cons of Having a Will
There are a couple of disadvantages to having a will that may or may not be important to you, depending on your situation. For example, once you’ve died and the will is filed for probate, it becomes a public record.
That means anyone who is interested can see the value of your assets and how you distributed them. Probate is a legal process of supervising how your will is executed. It is mandatory for your will to be filed in probate court.
It is possible that someone could legally challenge your will. To be successful, they must meet certain legal standards or grounds. For example, they must be able to prove you were not legally competent at the time you made the will or that you wrote the will under duress or were influenced by someone else.
They may also seek to challenge the will claiming it’s a forgery or that you were defrauded or misled into how you distributed your estate.
Contact Peck Ritchey, LLC to Get Your Questions Answered
If you haven’t written your first will, or you want to change your current one, the experienced Chicago estate planning attorneys from Peck Ritchey, LLC can help. When you come for your free consultation, one of our legal team will listen to your situation, answer your questions, and advise you on your next best steps.
Our compassionate and skilled team understands what it takes to represent your rights and interests. Call our office today at (855) 328-5787 to learn how our team can help you create a plan so that your estate takes care of your loved ones after you’re gone.