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What is a will?

On Behalf of | Jul 29, 2022 | Estate Planning |

For many people thinking of estate planning in Illinois, a will could be the primary document they create or maybe the only one. If someone wants to keep their plan as simple as possible, a will may be the only document they draft.

Wills are so popular and widely used for a reason. Provided that the person creating a will has the legal capacity to do so and complies with Illinois state law when drafting the document, they could potentially achieve all of their estate planning goals with that one piece of paper.

Whether you have just started thinking about estate planning or created documents years ago and now want to change or expand them, you will benefit from learning more about wills in particular.

What a will can do

Your will is a document with legal authority to dictate what happens after your death. Also known as a last will and testament, your will provides clear instructions for your family members, the personal representative of your estate and the probate courts.

The main purpose of a will is to arrange for the descent of specific property. You can name specific beneficiaries for specific assets, or you might leave instructions to liquidate your property and distribute the proceeds among specific beneficiaries.

A will can also provide a space for you to talk about those who depend on you. You can name someone to serve as the guardian for your children in your will in addition to allocating resources to provide for their care.

What makes a will valid in Illinois?

For a will to have any legal authority in the Illinois probate courts, it has to meet specific criteria established under state law. For example, the individual creating the will must have the necessary mental capacity to create legally-binding documents.

They will need to sign the will in the presence of two adult witnesses who also sign. Additionally, for the will to stand up in court typically it needs to comply with state law. That means the testator cannot disinherit their spouse or otherwise violate Illinois statutes.

Learning more about wills and other estate planning documents can help you choose the right tool for your protection and the security of the people you love.