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Wills Lawyer Serving Throughout Illinois

What Should I Know About Wills?

A Will Does Not Avoid Probate

Clients are often surprised that a will does not avoid probate. Every will goes through probate. A judge is responsible for three things in probate court:

  1. Review the will to make sure it was executed properly.
  2. Authorize and legally empower the person to execute the directions of the will, the executor.
  3. Make sure that the executor did a good job of executing the will.

Honestly, we think that the advertising about probate is an attempt to scare clients. There are some nice things about probate. Clients sometimes like the fact that the court is supervising the process.

We explain to clients that the problem with probate is that your family has to deal with two unknown individuals: (1) the attorney that will be hired to represent them before the judge in probate and (2) the judge. With any court experience (traffic, etc.), the attorney and the judge have a huge impact on your experience in court. Depending on these individuals, clients sometimes have a wonderful experience, or some really bad experiences.

A Will Is a Public Document

Also, another downside of probate, especially in our internet age, is that probate is a public process. Every will gets filed in court. There are even websites out there that publish famous wills of celebrities and famous public figures.

A Will Is Not a Simple Form

The next big problem we see with wills is that clients have forms, not a plan.

Think about this question: How have you designated your beneficiaries on your life insurance and retirement accounts?

We will talk about the big mistakes that we see over and over again when clients come to us with their wills.

Do I Need a Will?

Wills Lawyer Explain What Happens After Dying Intestate in Illinois

It is a common misconception that people with smaller estates do not need wills. However, even someone with few assets can benefit from putting instructions in place on how to distribute property after death, rather than leaving that decision to the state. Parents, in particular, should use a will to name a legal guardian for minor children.

The wills lawyer at MacDonald, Lee & Senechalle, Ltd. can educate you on the benefits of a will and what happens if someone you loves dies without a will. We know that drafting and executing a testamentary will is one of the most secure methods for providing for your family’s peace of mind and future.

Why Do I Need a Will? Illinois Will Law

A testamentary will dictates your last wishes and names the beneficiaries to your property. It also designates a person to carry out the terms of the will, the property distribution and funeral arrangements. In the unlikely event of both parents predeceasing minor children, a will can name a trusted legal guardian of the parents’ choice.

You can use a will to donate your assets to charities, non-profit organizations, educational or research institutes or towards funding college scholarships. If you do not leave a will, Illinois law determines beneficiaries and guardians of children. This highlights the importance of creating, revising and updating your will with the assistance of an estate planning attorney to ensure the law upholds how you would like to distribute your assets and protect your family upon your passing.

What Happens If I Die Without a Will in Illinois? Estate Planning Attorney on Dying Intestate

Dying without a will in Illinois means your assets are subject to the state’s intestacy laws. Illinois intestacy laws have the following rules for the estate of a person who dies without a will, also called dying intestate:

  • If you die without a will and have children but not a spouse, then the children inherit everything. If you die without children, but with a spouse, then the spouse inherits everything. If you have a spouse and children, the spouse gets half of the estate and the children share the other half.
  • If you die without a will and have no spouse or children, your parents and siblings will be your heirs at law. If both your parents and your siblings are alive, then the parents and siblings get equal shares. However, if only one parent is alive in this situation, then that parent gets a double share. Illinois intestacy laws also treat half siblings the same as whole siblings.
  • Legally adopted children are treated the same as biological children in intestate succession, as are children who are born posthumously.
  • A child born outside of marriage can receive the same share as children of a marriage, but only if you or the court establishes legal paternity of the biological father.
  • Grandchildren inherit assets only if the parent that was one of your children dies before assets are distributed.
  • If you die without a will and without heirs at law, then your property will revert to the state.
  • Minor children whose parents are both deceased will be left in legal limbo while the court determines who is a proper legal guardian.

Dying without a will in Illinois can leave a mess that can cause interfamilial arguments. The intestacy succession process can also take a long time and contradict verbal agreements the deceased may have made to certain family members. It is best to make your intentions clear by having a sound will in place to prevent these legal issues.

Where Can I Find a Wills Lawyer in Illinois?

The Hoffman Estates & Des Plaines wills lawyer of MacDonald, Lee & Senechalle, Ltd. have assisted many individuals in creating wills and other important estate planning documents. We understand that only you can make the right decisions about what to do with your estate in the event of your passing – our firm wants to make sure that your will reflects your decisions and final wishes.

If you are at all concerned about who will receive your estate when you pass away, you should consider executing a will. Our wills lawyer is available to guide you through the process and ensure that your will benefits the people you love. To find out everything you need to know about writing or updating your will and other estate planning documents, speak with our estate planning lawyers today.

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