A will, or last will and testament, is a document that outlines what happens to a person’s affairs and property after they pass away. While this legal document is something everyone should have, many people find the process of writing a will confusing and overwhelming.
Have you ever wondered about how to write a will, how much it costs, and whether it needs to be notarized in the state of Illinois? If so, you are not the only one!
Luckily, we have some information you are seeking. In this article, we’ll cover answers to some of the most common questions about wills, including:
- The steps you should take to complete a last will and testament;
- Why it’s better to work with a professional lawyer for preparing wills;
- How much it costs to create a will, and why the prices vary; and
- Whether or not you need to have your will notarized in Illinois.
Having a will is important because it helps safeguard everything you’ve worked for. It could also protect your family members by avoiding potential disputes over who is inheriting what.
Keep reading to find out how you can formulate a will that takes care of your property as well as those you love…
How Do I Make A Will In Chicago?
When it comes to writing a will, you generally have two options: doing it yourself or hiring a lawyer to compose your will for you. Of course, there are pros and cons to both choices.
However, the best method of ensuring your assets are protected is to work with an experienced wills litigation lawyer. Here are some more details about both options to help you make an informed decision about writing your will:
The DIY Method
If you choose to write your own will, one of the main benefits is that it is usually cheaper. You can use an online template, which is often low-cost, or even free.
A major drawback of writing your own will is that it could be deemed invalid if it doesn’t meet certain requirements. This forces your loved ones to go through probate, where the court determines the outcome of your affairs. Essentially, this could make your will useless, as your last wishes may or may not be followed.
Online templates may work in cases where a will is simple, such as when there are no spouses or children. For more complex situations, it is better to hire an attorney for writing wills to ensure everything is completed properly.
Working With An Attorney
The downside to working with a wills lawyer is that there is a higher up-front cost. However, working with a lawyer often pays for itself, as an attorney can end up saving you money long term.
For example, a lawyer for writing wills may be able to find ways of reducing your taxes during the estate planning process. It’s also important to keep in mind that without a proper will, your loved ones would likely end up paying an attorney anyway during the probate process.
Whether you decide to create a will yourself or hire a wills lawyer, you should be familiar with the steps involved in writing a will…
Steps For Creating A Will In Illinois:
- Ensure that you meet the requirements for creating a will in Illinois. You must be at least 18 years old, and you must be of sound mind and memory.
- Write the will. For the will to be valid, it must be in written form.
- Sign the will. If you cannot sign it, you must follow specific state laws to have someone else sign it on your behalf.
- Obtain signatures from at least two witnesses, who must also witness you signing your will. These witnesses may not be beneficiaries in the will.
What Should Be Included In A Will?
Aside from naming your beneficiaries and designating who will receive your assets and property, you should also:
- List a guardian for your children, if applicable.
- Appoint an executor, who will make sure that your last will is followed.
- Declare any wishes you may have for your funeral.
- And more…
Because the specific items that should be included in your will depend on your particular situation, it’s a good idea to consult with a lawyer for preparing wills. They can help you make sure everything is in order and nothing is missing.
What Does A Will Cost In Illinois?
The cost of a will varies greatly between enlisting professional assistance or writing it on your own. Even within these two categories, there are a range of prices.
If you decide to go it alone, you can find DIY last will kits online for under $100. It is even possible to download will templates online for free. However, it is worth noting that these are usually very generic and do not address any nuances in your situation, which could cause problems later on.
When working with a lawyer to make a will, your cost may be influenced by factors such as:
- The lawyer’s experience
- Whether they charge a flat fee or an hourly rate
- The complexity of your situation
- The city and state
- Whether the lawyer specializes in estate planning
- And more…
The best practice is to consult with a wills law office and discuss your needs. From there, they can give you a quote so you understand your costs ahead of time.
Do Wills Need To Be Notarized In Illinois?
The state of Illinois does not require a will to be notarized. Illinois is among a handful of states that allow your will to be validated without a notary.
Most states require the addition of an affidavit, or a written oath, for the will to be validated. The affidavit must be signed by the witnesses in the presence of a notary public. To have your will validated in Illinois, you must sign your will in the presence of your two witnesses – no affidavit required.
If You Need Additional Information…
Still have questions about wills? Want more information about trusts, living wills, powers of attorney, or the probate process? The wills law office of Leon J. Teichner & Associates can assist you with all aspects of wills and estate planning. Give our office a call today at (312) 900-9818.