Although the thought of dying and having your possessions divided among your loved ones might seem like a far-off concept, it is actually very important that any individual over the age of 18 who has assets have a will. A will can detail not only which assets you would like to give to with beneficiary, but how they are given to them. For example, you might want to put money meant for a young adult beneficiary into a trust fund that he or she cannot access until he or she reaches a certain age, such as 21.
Wills also do more than simply state who will receive your assets and how. They are a set of guidelines to be followed after your death that can make the probate process, the process of proving a will and distributing its contents, much easier for all parties involved.
What Can a Will Do for Me?
Your will can protect your assets in the following ways:
- It can name the executor of your will. This is the individual who is tasked with distributing your assets to their beneficiaries, reducing the chance of corruption during the distribution process or fights among family members;
- It can state exactly who is to receive certain assets or portions of assets. For example, without a will, your assets automatically become your spouse’s property upon your death. For an individual who has been married more than once or has children from a previous marriage, a will is a way that he or she can ensure that a former spouse or children from that marriage receive a portion of his or her estate;
- It can state who will have power of attorney for you should you become incapacitated. Power of attorney is the right to make financial, medical, and personal decisions on behalf of an incapacitated individual; and
- It can be used to have part or all of your estate given to charitable organizations. You do not have to leave all of your assets to family members – you can provide for your alma mater or a beloved nonprofit organization in your will.
If you Do Not Have a Will
If you die without a will, your assets are divided among your loved ones according to Illinois’ intestacy laws. According to these laws, a deceased individual’s assets are given to his or her spouse and children upon his or her death. If the deceased has no spouse or children, the assets go to his or her parents. If there are no parents, the assets go to the deceased’s siblings, moving further through the levels of distant relatives to find a suitable recipient. If the deceased has nobody who can claim to be a relative, the state takes his or her property.
Work with an Illinois Estate Planning Lawyer
To ensure that your will is valid and provides for your loved ones exactly how you intended to provide for them, work with an experienced estate planning attorney to create your will. Contact our team of estate planning attorneys at J Peterman Legal Group Ltd. in Western Springs, Illinois, today.