When preparing for the future, you must also prepare for the unexpected. While it’s unpleasant to think about, setting up a will is something that every adult should do. You never know when you may become incapacitated or worse. Learning how to make a will can save your family additional hardship and can ensure your final wishes are respected when that time comes. 

What Is A Will?

A will is a legal document that states what assets are transferred in your death. It dictates who will receive assets and how those assets will be distributed. A will can be proven invalid if it isn’t set up correctly and doesn’t meet certain requirements. In Illinois, a person must be 18 years or older to create a will. The creator of the will must be of sound mind and memory to understand their actions, and the will must be signed in front of two witnesses who must also sign the will. Holographic wills are not accepted under any circumstances in Illinois. 

Do You Need A Lawyer To Make A Will?

While it is not necessary to have a lawyer make your will, and many people create one using online software, there are many advantages to having a lawyer. If you have questions on how to make a will that cannot be answered by popular software, it’s best to seek out legal help.

If you have a large estate, it is best to have a lawyer to ensure your final wishes play out as you hoped. However, having a lawyer’s help for any size estate can be beneficial. Wills can be deemed invalid for many reasons, and it’s easier than you think to have part or all of your will found to be invalid. Language is so important in final wills. You want to ensure your will is not misinterpreted due to vague, ambiguous language. They can also write wills using language that predicts future scenarios that you may not have anticipated when writing a will on your own. A lawyer is experienced in writing specific, legally sound documents – experience you may not have. They can guide you in wording the document so your will is completely interpreted as it is meant to be. 

Wills backed by an attorney also hold more weight in court. There is less chance of a will being contested in court if it was drafted under the help of an attorney. This is one of the most appealing benefits people find in hiring an attorney for their will creation. 

How To Make A Will

There are many steps when learning how to make a will. To begin, gain an understanding of your state’s laws. Understanding the rules and regulations that are unique to your state will ensure you meet any requirements when writing your will. Find out, based on your understanding or confusion surrounding these rules, do you need a lawyer to make a will that will be deemed valid? 

A pad of paper with a silver pen sitting on top as the owner learns how to make a will

The next step is to make a list of your assets. This includes real estate and bank accounts, insurance policies and retirement accounts, personal effects, vehicles, and anything else that you can think might be eligible for probate. Assets in trusts can usually avoid probate. Speak with an attorney if you have questions about this. 

Name your executor and beneficiaries in your will. An executor is the person you trust to carry out your wishes and distribute your assets. They hold a lot of responsibility, so make sure you hire someone you trust who you know can take on the task. 

Beneficiaries are people who you choose to receive your assets. Once you have made a list of who you want to inherit something, you can begin to list out what you want them to inherit.

If you have children, the most important part of your will is naming a guardian for your children. You should name more than one in the case that your first choice isn’t available to take on the responsibility. Often, people provide financial assistance in the will for the guardians. 
In Illinois, you need 2 witnesses to sign your will. Make sure you have two available when you sign your final will. Beneficiaries of the will should not be witnesses to the will.

If you have questions about how to make a will, contact our Illinois attorneys at Schottler & Associates. We offer free 30 minute consultations so that you can get your questions answered easily. You can set up your consultation here.

To learn more about wills, see some information here.

Mark Schottler is a Chicagoland attorney with over 20 years of experience working both in probate and estate planning law and in real estate law. He puts his extensive knowledge on these subjects into easily consumable articles that will help and advise the public. Mark Schottler has a passion for probate and uses this to create relevant articles that are informative and entertaining. *While these posts may detail general legal issues, it is not legal advice. Use of this site does not create an attorney-client relationship.