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Waukegan will preparation lawyerA will is often a difficult subject to discuss. In addition to the strong emotions involved when talking about death, discussions surrounding who will inherit what items or assets can cause division among family members. You want your family to be secure and happy, especially while you are still with them. However, you will not always be with them, so it is essential to set clear guidelines for how your assets will be distributed to your beneficiaries, who will be the guardian of your minor children, and how your last wishes should be carried out.

Requirements for an Illinois Will

Under Illinois law, any emancipated minor or adult who is at least 18 years old can make a last will and testament. A person must be of sound mind and memory to do so. For the will to be valid, three requirements must be met: 

  1. The will must be in written form, and it may be handwritten, typed, or printed out. Illinois state law does not allow for oral wills.
  2. The will must be signed by the individual making the will, who is known as the testator. If the testator cannot sign the will themselves, then another individual who is not a witness can sign it on their behalf, but that person must be in the testator’s presence while doing so.
  3. The will must be signed by two or more witnesses who were present at the execution of the will and saw the testator sign it. In Illinois, anyone may be a witness, but it is usually advised that the witnesses be disinterested parties. That is, a witness should be someone who does not benefit directly from the will themselves. This helps to create impartiality if the validity of the will is ever challenged.

What Happens if There Is No Valid Will?

If a person dies without a will, the courts will decide how to divide up their estate among their heirs. Typically, the assets will be divided between the deceased person’s spouse and children, and if they are not married and have no children, it will go to other relatives, such as parents, siblings, grandparents, aunts, uncles, or cousins. If the deceased person has any minor children, a guardian will be appointed for them by the court. In order to ensure that your assets are distributed according to your wishes and that you are able to name a guardian for your children, it is imperative to have a valid will in place.

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