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.
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:
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:
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.
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.
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.
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