Setting up a will is an essential step in ensuring that your assets are distributed according to your wishes after you pass away. In the state of Illinois, having a will allows individuals to have more control over the distribution of their assets, appoint guardians for minor children, and forgive debts owed.
Technically, you don’t have to go through an attorney to set up a will, but doing so can help you avoid mistakes and ensure that your will is valid and complete. At Diamond Legal, we are committed to helping our clients create plans that are tailored to their needs and goals. If you would like to schedule a consult with an experienced attorney, contact our office – we’re here to help.
But before your consult, you may have some questions. One of the common questions we receive is, how old should you be before you set up a will in Illinois? Often, we think of creating a will or estate plan as being something that older people do – but the truth is, nearly every adult can benefit from having one.
Let’s explore the legal requirements and considerations for creating a will in Illinois.
Legal Requirements for Creating a Will in Illinois
To create a will in Illinois, there are certain legal requirements that must be met.The minimum age requirement to create a will is 18 years old. This ensures that the individual has reached the age of majority and is considered an adult under the law.
Additionally, individuals must have the prerequisite of mental competence and soundness of mind. This means that they must understand the nature of creating a will, the extent of their assets, and the implications of their decisions.
The will should be written in a specific format and signed in the presence of two witnesses. These witnesses must be at least 18 years old and cannot be beneficiaries or heirs named in the will. Their role is to confirm that the individual creating the will is of sound mind and is voluntarily making their decisions. Notarization is not required in Illinois, but it can provide an extra layer of assurance and can make the probate process smoother.
Benefits of Having a Will in Illinois
Having a will in Illinois provides several benefits. First and foremost, it allows individuals to have more control over the distribution of their assets, ensuring that their wishes are carried out. For example, if you want to leave a specific item or amount of money to a certain person or organization, you can include those instructions in your will.
A will and accompanying guardianship documents will also allow individuals to appoint guardians for their minor children, providing peace of mind knowing that their children will be cared for by someone they trust. This is particularly important if you have young children who would need a legal guardian in the event of your passing – having the right documents in place may prevent DCFS (or other child protective services) from having to step in.
Furthermore, a will allows individuals to forgive debts owed to them, providing a clear legal record of their intentions. For example, if you have loaned money to a family member or friend and you wish to forgive that debt, you can specify it in your will.
Having a will also helps to avoid potential disputes among family members and prevents the state from deciding how assets are distributed through intestacy laws. By clearly stating your wishes, you can minimize the chances of disagreements and ensure that your assets are distributed according to your desires.
Having a will also provides the opportunity to update it as circumstances change. Life is dynamic, and it is important to review and revise your will periodically to reflect any significant changes.
For example, if you have a child, get married or divorced, acquire new assets, start or grow a business, or experience a change in your financial situation, you may need to update your will. By keeping your will up to date, you can ensure that it accurately reflects your current wishes and circumstances.
Determining the Right Time to Create a Will
The right time to create a will in Illinois depends on individual circumstances rather than just age. While the legal age requirement is 18, it is important to consider factors such as having children, getting married, and accumulating assets.
These significant life events often prompt individuals to think about their legacy and the need for a will. However, it is important to note that anyone who is 18 years of age or older can create a will in Illinois, as long as they are mentally competent.
It is also recommended to periodically update the will as life circumstances change. For example, if you get married, divorced, have children, or acquire significant assets, it is important to review and revise your will accordingly. This ensures that your will reflects your current wishes and circumstances. It is advisable to seek professional advice from an attorney experienced in estate planning to help you determine the right time to create or update your will.
For example, suppose you want to create a will at 25 years old, leaving your assets to your siblings. However, over the years, you got married, bought a house, and had two children. Realizing the need to update your will, you consult an estate planning attorney who assists you in revising the document to include your spouse and children as beneficiaries.
By regularly reviewing and updating your will, you can ensure that your assets will be distributed according to your current wishes.
Creating a will is not limited to a specific age, but rather to the stage of life where you want to ensure that your assets are distributed according to your wishes. By creating a will and working with your attorney to update it, you can have peace of mind knowing that your loved ones will be taken care of and your wishes will be respected.
DISCLAIMER: Any information contained herein is solely for informational purposes and is only applicable in the state of Illinois. While it is important that you educate yourself, nothing herein should be construed as legal advice or create an attorney-client relationship. For specific questions, we urge you to contact a local attorney for advice pertaining to your specific legal needs.