Rolling Meadows Wills Lawyer

Your will is a statement of your wishes about what will happen to your property after you die; writing a will that meets the legal requirements can prevent disputes during probate.

Last Will and Testament

A will is also known as a last will and testament. During probate, which is when the court transfers a deceased person’s assets to the person’s family members or other beneficiaries, the court uses the will as a guide to finding out who inherits what and who has decision-making power about the estate. Your will should address the following matters:

  • Who should be the personal representative of your estate during probate
  • Which property you own
  • Who will inherit your assets, including money, real estate, and personal property
  • Which assets you want the probate court to sell, and how you want the court to divide the proceeds of the sale
  • If applicable, which members of your family you do not want to inherit anything from you

There are no rules about how you must divide your assets; you get to decide who gets your property after you die. Some people divide their estates equally or unequally among their children, while others leave everything to one member of their extended family. Some people leave their assets to friends or favorite charities.

There are several instances in which the court will distribute your assets to parties other than the ones mentioned in your will:

  • The probate court must pay your outstanding tax obligations before the beneficiaries of your will receive what is left.
  • Creditors have a chance to ask the probate court to settle your outstanding debts before the beneficiaries get their inheritance.
  • If you are married, your spouse can claim an elective share of your estate, unless your spouse waived that right in a prenuptial agreement. The spousal elective share is one-third if you have children and one-half if you do not have children.

In order for a will to be valid, it must be typewritten, and it must bear your signature and the signatures of several witnesses. The probate courts of Illinois do not accept holographic (handwritten) or nuncupative (unsigned) wills.

What Happens if Someone Dies Without a Will?

If someone does not leave a will, Illinois probate law still requires the court to administer their estate. First, the court appoints a personal representative for the estate; the personal representative then files a tax return for the state and settles the decedent’s debts, if any. When the estate settles, the court divides the decedent’s remaining assets among the decedent’s closest surviving relatives, such as the decedent’s spouse, children, parents, or siblings.

Contact the Rolling Meadows Wills Lawyer at Andrea Heckman Law

Your will is one of the most important documents in your estate plan. Whether you are writing your will for the first time or need to update your will because of a major change to your family or financial situation, an estate planning lawyer can help you. Contact Andrea Heckman Law in Rolling Meadows, Illinois, to create a legally valid, conflict-proof will.

Contact our office to arrange for a free initial consultation and review of your case.


Andrea Heckman

Managing Attorney

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