What is a Will
A Will is a legal document that directs the distribution of your assets (personal property, real property, intangible assets) at the time of your death to your named beneficiaries. A Will allows you the flexibility to distribute your assets in whichever way you desire, either leaving all assets to be distributed to one beneficiary or to be equally divided among a number of beneficiaries or even at predetermined percentages. Failure to make provisions for some or all of your assets will mean that such property will pass through the law of intestate succession and may not conform to your wishes unless a Residuary Estate provision is included in your Will to catch all others assets not specifically distributed in the Will.
In cases of multiple heirs, i.e. spouse and/or children, you are not required to distribute your property equally to your heirs. However you want your assets distributed, a Will ensures that your final wishes are respected and the proper heirs and/or beneficiaries inherit the right assets from your estate in the probate process.
A Will also allows you to select a trusted individual to act as your Executor who will manage your estate, wind-up your affairs, and distribute your assets according to your stated wishes. If you do not have a Will at the time of your death, your assets will be distributed according to the state law of intestate succession, or may be forfeited to the state. Your estate may end up being administered by a stranger selected by the courts and your assets distributed to unintended heirs and beneficiaries contrary to your wishes. The only way to make sure your final wishes for the distribution of your assets are followed is to make a Will.
In Illinois, the creation of Wills is governed by Article IV of the Illinois Probate Act of 1975 (755 ILCS 5/4-1). The law provides for the following:
- Testator Capacity Requirements – The person making the Will must be 18 or older, of sound mind and memory, and has the power to give away real and personal property owned at time of the testator’s death.
- Will Form and Execution – the Will must be in in writing, signed either (1) by the testator or (2) by some other person at the testators direction, and attested to in the presence of at least two credible witnesses,
Witnesses may be any adult person, but may not be a beneficiary of the Will unless the will is witnessed by at least 2 other independent witnesses.
Property/Assets Transferred by Will
All your property/assets are transferred by your Will except property/assets transferred to some other person at the time of your death by operation of law. Examples are:
- Real estate owned in joint tenancy or in tenancy by the entirety;
- Life insurance with named beneficiary;
- Pension Plans with named beneficiary;
- Joint bank accounts or bank accounts with “pay-on-death” beneficiary; and
- Property owned in Trust, etc.
SERVICES FOR WILL PREPARATION, OR REVIEW, OR REVISION/ADDENDUM:
At Noorani & Villar, we provide legal services for the preparation of your Will, which may include basic Wills or more complex Wills that plan for the care of minor children and disabled adults. We provide an option for a Will preparation ONLY or a Will package which also include the preparation of a health care power of attorney, power of attorney for property, and healthcare directive. We also provide legal services for the review and explanation of your existing Will and/or prepare an addendum to your existing Will for revisions.
Please contact Noorani & Villar, P.C., where our attorneys will assist you in your Will requirements.