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How old should you be before you set up a will?

It’s not pleasant to think about what happens after you pass away, but preparing for the inevitable can take a tremendous amount of stress off your loved ones. While anyone over the age of 18 can have a will, it’s best to evaluate your estate planning needs based on your circumstances and not just your age. 

Why is having a will important in Illinois?

In Illinois, a will is a legal document that allows you to direct who will receive your assets when you are gone, who will care for your minor children, and can even forgive debts owed.  It gives you the peace of mind to know that your wishes will be followed and your loved ones will be cared for.

Without a will, you will be considered to have died “intestate” and the state will decide how your assets are to be distributed.  This is called the law of intestate succession and, whenever the state is involved, you can be sure that there will be expenses incurred in settling the state, as well as a lot of time.  Essentially, the loved ones of the deceased party end up with little to no control over who receives what. With a will, however, you can make specific gifts to family members and close friends.

When should a will be made?

Any legal adult can have a will. Determining the right time to have a will drafted depends more on your circumstances than your age. For example, many people think they don’t need to have a will made until they’re middle-aged because they are statistically more likely to develop a life-threatening health condition. While it’s true that your odds of passing away increase as you age, it’s important to realize that anything can happen to anyone at any age. Instead of focusing on age, focus on having a will made if and when you marry, have children, or as you begin to accumulate assets and investments. 

Who doesn’t need a will?

As a general rule of thumb, people who don’t have children, a spouse, or assets may not see the benefits of having a will. This means that if you’re unmarried, without children, don’t own a home or have significant assets, having a will prepared may not be your priority at this point.  However, that being said, it is never a bad idea to have a will prepared for you. Even if you have no children now, your will can be drafted to provide for any children you may have or may adopt in the future. Taking control now gives you peace of mind and the satisfaction of taking care of business.

Who should I contact to discuss my will and estate planning?

Estate planning and wills can be complicated. Laws also vary from state to state, so something that works for your relative in California might not be adequate for your needs in Illinois. 

We recommend discussing your assets and will with a law firm with experience in estate planning. Wills are legally binding documents and should be drafted by qualified professionals with estate planning experience. Beyond having a will, there are other documents that an attorney can help with such as Power of Attorney forms, which can provide decision-making power over medical and legal matters to people you trust in the event you become disabled or otherwise unable to take care of your affairs. Estate planning lawyers can also help you establish trusts when you start accumulating  assets like real estate, investment properties and brokerage accounts.  Having a trust in place may avoid probate when you pass away and allows your successor trustees to seamlessly step in and start managing your assets when you are gone.

Our law firm, Diamond and LeSueur serves clients in and around McHenry, Illinois in need of estate planning. Our attorneys provide custom estate planning services including trusts and wills tailored to your unique needs and situation. If you have questions about your estate planning needs, call our office at (815) 385-6840 to schedule a consultation.

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