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What is the Right Age to Write a Will?

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In Illinois, anyone age 18 and over has the legal right and privilege to write a will. Deciding when to make a will is a personal decision. Accidents can happen, and being proactive about ensuring the security of one’s family, pets and assets is a practical and sensible solution.

What are the benefits of making a will?

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Intestacy laws go into effect when someone dies without a will. Illinois intestacy laws give the state the right to distribute the decedent’s (the individual who has died) property to his or her closest relatives. If no distant relatives are located, the state takes the property.

Especially if an Illinois resident owns property, cash and real estate and would like to see these assets distributed to a spouse, children or charitable organization, then writing a will as soon as it is legally binding in the state is practicable and even recommended.

Individuals with children should also consider writing a will as soon as possible to protect the children’s future. In Illinois, the testator (person writing the will) has the right to appoint a person to act as a guardian of his or her children and may outline the guardian’s responsibilities.

Those aged 18 and over who own pets should strongly consider writing a will. Illinois law allows what is known as a “pet trust,” which provides care to animals after the owner has passed away. Pet owners will thereby ensure the well-being of their animals after their death.

What are the requirements for writing a will?

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Besides being of legal age, a testator in Illinois must follow basic requirements. The individual must possess mental competence in order for the will to be valid. Mental competence may be displayed as understanding one is writing a will and being familiar with one’s property and descendants.

The two witnesses required to sign the will acknowledge the testator’s mental competence. Dissatisfied heirs might challenge the testator’s mental competence at some point in the future. Such cases may be preemptively handled by including a doctor’s assessment during the creation of the will.

Witnesses are key factors when it comes to validating the will. The two reliable witnesses that are required to sign the will provide their signatures while in the presence of each other. The witnesses ensure that the testator is not under duress at the time of executing the will.

Beneficiaries are not permitted to serve as witnesses. Illinois enforces such laws to prevent a conflict of interest with people standing to financially benefit from the death of the testator. If a beneficiary serves as a witness, she may lose part or all of the gift stated in the will.

Can a will be revised?

An Illinois testator has the right to revise a will at any time. Changes to the will are valid if the testator follows the same procedures that applied to writing it. Alterations to the will must be made by the testator or by someone who has the testator’s consent.

Can a will be revoked?

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A person who has written a will and testament years ago may have the desire to revoke it. The revocation of an Illinois will can be done in any of several ways. The testator has the option to write a subsequent will and include a declaration revoking the earlier will.

The testator also has the choice to tear up the will, burn it or otherwise cancel the will while in another person’s presence. Furthermore, a witness may destroy the will with the testator’s consent or under the testator’s specific direction.

What makes a will valid in Illinois?

A will must be in writing to be recognized as legally valid in the state of Illinois. Holographic wills (those that are handwritten without the presence of witnesses) are not accepted in Illinois due to the lack of the required witnesses.

Similarly, video wills are not considered valid in Illinois. However, a testator can create a video will in addition to a written one to prove he was of sound mind and not unduly influenced while signing the will. Will-signing ceremonies simply involve reading the will aloud on camera.

The addition of a video will can be useful to show the testator signing the will in the presence of two credible witnesses. The video will is a visual record of the testator’s sound decisions and shows that the will was executed in a free and independent manner.

Is a lawyer necessary to write a will?

Illinois gives testators the right to independently make a will with the help of software designed to create valid wills or through online will programs. Such tools allow testators to create wills at any legal age. However, consulting a wills and trusts attorney is strongly advised under certain circumstances.

A testator who has fears that his will might be contested for any reason is urged to speak with a lawyer. An experienced estate planning attorney has the ability to skillfully structure an estate plan, for example, making it less worthwhile for a dissatisfied relative to sue.

Work with an Estate Planning Attorney

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Writing a will sooner rather than later is recommended. Remember that wills can be updated at any point in the future, and revisions are especially important when financial situations change. When you are considering writing or changing a will, consult Berry K. Tucker & Associates, Ltd.

Our experienced estate planning attorneys ensure your will is legally valid, free of errors and appropriate for your situation. The lawyers at Berry K. Tucker & Associates, Ltd. will help you with choosing between a living will or a simple will. We’ll provide expert guidance on all aspects of trusts, too.

Your family’s future security is a priority when you work with Berry K. Tucker & Associates, Ltd. The will and trust attorneys at our Oak Lawn-based firm will help you navigate the complex path of will creation and estate planning, no matter at what age you write or update your will.

Contact Us

Give us a call at 708-425-9530 to schedule a free consultation with our estate planning attorneys.

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