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Different Types of Wills

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Wills offer peace of mind. These important legal documents stipulate how your assets will be distributed once you have passed. Without a will, the state of Illinois, via the Illinois Probate Act, determines how your assets will be handled. The best time to create a will is now, whether or not you are in peak health, to ensure your loved ones’ futures are secure.

The type of will you create can fall into any of the following four variations and be legally recognized in the state of Illinois.

Different Types of WillsLast-Will-and-Testament-Form-with-Gavel

Simple Will

Simple wills are just that, simple to create, require minimum effort to draft and address most assets. This type of will is especially ideal for those who do not own a major estate that is subject to estate taxes.

A simple will manages your last desires, including

  • Distributing property once you are deceased
  • Designating a guardian for your minor children
  • Appointing an individual to handle your minor children’s financial affairs and
  • Naming a person to execute your estate

A simple will normally takes care of the needs of people under the age of 50 who have a small estate (your property). If you own significant assets or property or will owe estate taxes upon your death, a simple will may not be for you. Plus, if you intend to distribute your wealth to your children and, when they die, to your grandchildren, you will require a more complex will.

You, as the testator (person writing the will) can write a simple will without the assistance of a will and trust attorney. Once the will is written, at least two witnesses (according to Illinois law) must sign the form in order for it to be legally binding; these witnesses must not be beneficiaries. Individuals may create simple wills via self-help books, online forms, and software designed to develop these legal documents.

Testamentary Trust Wills

When you designate a portion of your property to a trust, you require a testamentary trust will. This type of will allots your property to your beneficiary, but a designated trustee manages the details of how and when your assets are dispersed to the trust beneficiary.

For instance, you designate your oldest child as your beneficiary but stipulate that your brother acts as the trustee. The trustee manages the funds, doling out a portion of your assets regularly over a period of time, rather than delivering the funds in one lump sum to your oldest child.

If your designated trustee declines the role, the court may assign a trustee; alternately, another trusted individual may volunteer to assume the responsibility.

Joint Will

A joint will is drafted so that all your assets go to your living spouse. Essentially, couples leave their property to each other. A joint will cannot be revised without the other spouse’s consent, meaning it is irrevocable once one spouse has passed.

Given the irrevocable nature of the joint will, attorneys advise against drafting such a document. The surviving spouse may live for several more years and eventually may face life circumstances that warrant a change in the terms of the joint will. For example, the living spouse may wish to allocate a portion of the assets to a grandchild for his college expenses; or, the survivor may desire to downsize and move into a smaller home. Unfortunately, alterations to the joint will cannot legally be made, since receiving approval from the deceased spouse is impossible.

Living Will

A living will involves your last wishes related to your medical care if you become too incapacitated to communicate. For instance, you may draft a living will that relays your wish to not be hooked up to feeding tubes or be resuscitated in the event you become unconscious.

A living will serves as your healthcare directive. In the document, you appoint an agent to carry out your decisions as outlined in the living will. The appointed healthcare agent cannot be the testator’s healthcare provider. According to Illinois law, two witnesses must sign the living will; these witnesses must be over 18 years old, should not be accountable for your healthcare costs and should not be legally permitted to your estate. As the testator, you are responsible for notifying your medical provider of the existence of the living will.

Unrecognized Wills

In the state of Illinois, two types of wills lack legal authority. The first of the two is the holographic will, which is handwritten by the testator and fails to bear the signatures of witnesses. Unless the will was written in another state that does not require witness signatures, the holographic will has no legal power in Illinois.

The second type of will that is unrecognized in Illinois is the nun-cupative will. Such a will is spoken to witnesses, including in such scenarios as life and death emergencies, soldiers in war or persons in danger of facing imminent death, and by people who cannot immediately draft a written will. Illinois does not accept nun-cupative wills under any condition, although some jurisdictions do.

Wills ensure that your final wishes are carried out as you intend. In order for a will to be accepted in a court of law, the document must be legally binding. One way to ensure your will is permissible in court is to create the form with the help of a will and trust attorney from the reputable law firm of Berry K. Tucker & Associates, Ltd.

Work with Berry K. Tucker & Associates, Ltd.Berry-K.-Tucker-Lawyer-Oak-Lawn-IL

The attorneys at Berry K. Tucker & Associates, Ltd. stay current on changing Illinois laws, ensuring your legal documents are properly executed and your family’s financial future is secure. Our lawyers take time to understand your unique financial situation and advise you appropriately. We are experienced in all forms of estate planning, from simple wills to trusts, like irrevocable trusts, charitable trusts, and living trusts, among many others.

Our exceptionally skilled estate planning lawyers from Berry K. Tucker & Associates, Ltd. serve the greater Oak Lawn, IL community with dedication and unparalleled expertise. Consultations are available for those interested in meeting with one of our will and trust attorneys.

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To request an initial consultation with Berry K. Tucker & Associates, Ltd., give us a call at (708) 425-9530 or fill out a contact form. We look forward to working with you!

5 Steps for Making a Living Will in Illinois

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Feeding tubes? CPR? Before you are on your deathbed, you are likely to have strong preferences about how your end-of-life care should be handled. In the event you become incapacitated and no longer have the capability to express wishes for your medical care, a living will becomes vital.

A living will is a legal document that clearly spells out how your physician should conduct your end-of-life medical care. Also known as an advance directive or directive to physicians, a living will is invaluable in giving the incapacitated individual control over his or her final days of healthcare.

The Importance of Having a Living WillLast-Will-and-Testament-Form-with-Gavel

Without a living will, doctors and family members of the person in a terminal condition have no way of knowing his or her preferences surrounding end-of-life medical care. Given the short-lived but powerful directives of the living will, developing a living will while you are in good health is critical.

Each state in the US has differing laws surrounding the terms of a living will. In Illinois, the definition of a living will is provided in the Illinois Living Will Act. The Act stipulates that the living will may indicate whether or not the incapacitated person wishes to have his or her death delayed by medical procedures.

Any individual over the age of 18 and who takes up residence in Illinois may execute a living will. When a living will is signed into effect in another state, Illinois law recognizes the living will.

5 Steps to Create a Living Will

1. Discuss Your Wishes with Your Physician

The first step in creating a living will is to discuss with your physician whether or not he or she will comply with your medical instructions in the event you become incapacitated.

2. Record Your Decisions

Write down your decisions regarding whether or not to receive death-delaying medical procedures. A lawyer may be hired to prepare the living will. Alternately, you may elect to utilize living will software that complies with Illinois’ laws.

Aside from being cost-effective, using a software to create a legally binding living will allows you to update it at any time. Ensure the living will is official. Medical professionals and hospitals are more likely to enforce an official living will rather than an unofficial document.

3. Have Witnesses Sign the Will

Witnesses give legal credibility to the living will. You will first need to sign the living will in front of two witnesses who are at least 18 years of age. Once you provide your signature, the two witnesses must sign the living will. Carefully choose your witnesses. Anyone responsible for your healthcare is not permitted to sign as a witness. In addition, any person who stands to inherit property is not a credible witness in the eyes of the law and cannot legally serve as a witness.

Once signed, the living will takes effect. Alternately, you may elect to have the living will enforced when you are deemed unable to relay decisions about death-delaying treatment. For as long as possible, physicians will rely on your ability to communicate, as opposed to the living will, even if the living will takes effect immediately.

4. Distributed the Signed or Notarized Living Will

Distribute the signed or notarized living will to your medical team, estate planning lawyer, and/or family. Healthcare professionals and institutions you may wish to send the living will to include your doctor and the hospital or healthcare facility.

The hospital will store the living will in your medical file. Your lawyer should also receive a copy. Family members should be notified, as well any other trusted individuals who will carry out your last medical requests. Noting who receives a copy of your living will is important in the event you decide to update or cancel the document.

5. Assign an Agent or Healthcare Professional to the Will

Assign an agent or healthcare proxy to carry out your end-of-life medical requests. This individual works in conjunction with a durable power of attorney (DPOA). Living wills can be combined with a DPOA document in a few states.

Your agent can be someone you trust, like a spouse, family member or close friend. An ideal choice is someone who will not give way under pressure if arguments arise about your care. Under Illinois law, your agent cannot be your attending physician or healthcare provider. When you are no longer able to communicate decisions about your end-of-life care, your agent steps in, putting in motion the wishes outlined in your living will.

How to Cancel a Living Will

Canceling your living will is relatively simple. Write out a note that specifies the cancelation. This signed document must then be sent to anyone who received a copy of the original living will. You may also verbally cancel an existing living will by telling a witness aged 18 or over about your wish to cancel it.

Subsequently, the witness should provide a written document confirming the cancelation. Most importantly, your doctor should receive notice about the cancelation. The physician will add the cancelation note into your medical file, and attending medical professionals will accordingly disregard the canceled living will.

When to Create a Living Will

The best time to create a living will is now. When you are able to communicate your decisions about end-of-life care, take steps to write it down with the help of Oak Lawn’s most respected will and trust attorneys, Berry K. Tucker & Associates, Ltd. No matter how overwhelming the thought of creating a living will can be, the established attorneys at Berry K. Tucker & Associates, Ltd. will simplify the process.

Skilled lawyers from the Berry K. Tucker & Associates, Ltd. team stay updated on the changing laws in Illinois. With unmatched expertise, the attorneys take the time to fully understand your unique situation and help develop the most optimal legal documents to carry out your stated wishes. The legal team at Berry K. Tucker & Associates, Ltd. sees to it that your living will is created in accordance with Illinois law. Appropriate legal documentation is necessary for proper execution.

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Residents of the Oak Lawn, Illinois, and surrounding communities know they can rely on the knowledgeable will and trust attorneys at Berry K. Tucker & Associates, Ltd. To schedule an initial consultation with one of our attorneys, contact us directly at (708) 425-9530 or fill out a form and we will get back to you shortly!

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