After your passing, security is one of the greatest gifts you can give your family, no matter how large or small your personal estate. The best way to ensure the security of your family is by teaming up with an experienced Will County estate planning lawyer to create an official, comprehensive estate plan. Having an estate plan in place that is customized to the needs and wants of you and your loved ones is essential. There are many elements in a complete estate plan, but the foundation of anyone’s plan is a well-crafted will.
A will, also referred to as a last will and testament, is a document that can name beneficiaries and provide guidance as to how you would like your affairs handled at the time of your passing. It is an outline that directs your loved ones on how you would like your living minor children to be cared for and how to divide your remaining assets.
Wills are necessary to ensure that your affairs are handled how you want them to be. In the event that a will is not present at the time of death, the state of Illinois will determine the outcome of these issues based on strict legal guidelines and not necessarily what you would have personally wanted.
It’s never too early to start drafting your will and begin planning your estate. Death may be difficult to discuss, but it’s a reality we all must face. One way we can begin to deal with the inevitable outcome is by detailing what will happen when the unfortunate arises. Even if drafting a will is something you feel is unnecessary at this stage in your lifetime, it is important to remember that without a will, you will not have any say in your affairs after your passing.
If you fail to prepare a will, your property and other valuable assets will be placed into the hands of judges and other state officials. Not only can this result in an expenditure of time and money on legal costs and probate court fees for your family, but it can also be the source of ongoing family strife.
Even if you feel that it may be early in your lifetime to begin crafting a will, if you have minor children, it’s essential for their wellbeing that you begin to do so as soon as possible. Creating a will doesn’t just mean you get to choose who gets what and how much of your assets; it gives very specific and important guidelines about what should happen to your children in the event of your passing. A will allows you to name guardians that will care for and look after your minor children. You’ll also be able to determine the amount of their inheritance and at what age they are able to receive it.
If you don’t have minor children, you should also consider crafting a will if you are married or begin to purchase real estate. Once you acquire assets or have an individual with whom you intend to share assets, you should make an effort to have them legally established as your beneficiary in the event of your passing.
Probate is a legal term for the process of reviewing a will to determine its validity and authenticity. It also is used in reference to the administration of a deceased person’s estate or the affairs of a deceased person who does not have a will. Probate can be incredibly challenging for families who have just experienced a loss. Because the judge and court system need to inspect every detail of the deceased person’s last will and testament cautiously and meticulously, it can make settling affairs feel as if they are dragging on forever.
It is ideal to ensure that your grieving family is able to avoid probate to the best of their ability. In addition to creating excess stress, probate can cause family strife through disagreement. By taking the time to create a detailed, comprehensive family estate plan, you can help ensure that your family does not have to deal with the lengthy, grueling process of probate court.
Unfortunately, there is a high likelihood that your family will have to go to court. Having a will gives your family a much greater chance of having to spend less time with the probate court, but it does not give a guarantee that they will not have to deal with the Will County, Illinois, court system at all. Your family members, or the designated executor of the estate, will have to personally deal with the court for smaller tasks, such as filing the will with the Will County Probate Court Clerk office.
There’s plenty of at-home software to help you draft a will at home, but you should always finalize your will with a Will County wills attorney. At-home online options are great for getting started and thinking of the necessary questions. However, these tools tend to skip over important details that a family estate planning attorney won’t miss.
While drafting a will, you’ll come across a lot of legal jargon that can be confusing and hard to understand. Because the will is the foundation of your estate planning, you must be aware of everything written in it. An attorney can guide you through the process step-by-step and make sure that all of the specifics are covered.
In Illinois, there are four criteria you need to meet for your will to be legally valid. You have to be over the age of 18 and of sound mind. This is to make sure that no minors, or individuals who are unable to speak on their behalf or best interest, are at risk of having their estates taken advantage of.
In addition, you must have a will crafted in writing, which must be signed by you and two or more witnesses. If you had not met these criteria after your passing, your affairs will be handled as if a will did not exist. Your affairs will now be divided intestate, meaning that the laws of the state of Illinois and the probate will determine which family members are the beneficiaries of what assets.
You need to file the will in question with the Will County, Illinois probate. You will need both a copy of the will and certificate of death for the deceased. You can file in person with the probate clerk or by mail. If you file a will by mail, make sure you keep a copy of the will for your own personal records. There is no fee to file a will in Will County.
Remember, Illinois law designates that you must file the will of the deceased within 30 days of their passing. If a will is not filed within 30 days of the deceased’s passing, the family may move forward with the probate court as if there was not a valid will in existence. Unfortunately, any terms set in the will no longer apply, and the assets will be divided intestate. This means that any financial or physical assets will be divided according to Illinois state law and the court's official ruling.
When a will is drafted, the individual, also referred to as the testator, names an executor of their will upon their passing. When the testator passes, the executor is responsible for filing the will with the Will County Clerk. Once the will has been filed with the county clerk, it is an official public record, and anybody is able to obtain a copy of the will. If you do not want the details of your assets or names of your beneficiaries to be public after your passing, consider crafting a living trust with the assistance of an estate planning attorney. In addition to a living trust’s many benefits, a trust allows you to keep your affairs private and out of the public eye after your passing.
There are no fees if you are filing a will in Will County. To file an accounting, the cost is $25.00, and for Letters of Office, the fee is $2.00.
The fees for filing a claim are as follows:
An affidavit of heirship is a legal document used when somebody dies without a valid will. It is used to identify heirs to the deceased’s real property, also known as real estate. The affidavit is then recorded with the county clerk in the county in which the property is located. For the affidavit to be considered a valid legal document, it must be signed by the heir and two witnesses who must swear under oath. One witness must be familiar with the deceased and their property, and neither can benefit from the transfer of the property.
In addition to a valid legal will, your estate plan should also consist of a few other legal documents. If you are in possession of a large amount of physical and financial assets, or you are in your golden years, having an estate planning attorney assist you in crafting a living trust is a great way to ensure the security of your family for years to come. A living trust is a legal contract that designates your assets as property of a trustee. Most individuals act as the trustee and transfer the ownership of property into the trust until they pass or become incapacitated.
While they are still the trustee, they will name a designated successor trustee to whom the possession of the assets will pass. You are able to deem your living trust revocable, meaning that you are able to change it at any time, as long as you are of sound mind. You are also able to establish an irrevocable living trust. If you choose to place your assets into an irrevocable living trust, any changes will need the permission and approval of all beneficiaries listed to be valid.
It is also a good idea to establish a legal document naming your Power of Attorney. An individual to whom you grant power of attorney will have the ability to make legal decisions on your behalf if you are not of sound mind or are no longer capable of managing your finances on your own. Your financial institutions will only release your documents, funds, and other assets to the owner of an account unless there is an individual with power of attorney.
Establishing an advanced care directive is also a great way to care for yourself as you age and add to your other estate planning documents. An advanced care directive is used to establish your end-of-life care. It is especially important if you have any specific religious beliefs or desires about the type or method of your care in the future. For example, certain individuals choose to have any and all medical options attempted before being removed from life supporting assistance. In contrast, others prefer that their life is determined by the course of natural causes.
The last thing you want in the unfortunate event of your passing is someone you don’t know in control of your estate and the destiny of your minor children. Vahey and Betouni estate planning attorneys can walk you through the process of crafting a will and the other legal documents necessary to ensure your affairs are in order in the event of your passing. If you have questions regarding creating or executing a will, contact our law offices for a consultation today.