What is a Last Will and Testament


A Illinois Last Will and Testament, when prepared and executed properly by a person who is an adult of sound mind with legal responsibility for his- or herself, is a formal document that specifies how their assets or estate will be managed and distributed after their death. The person who dies is formally referred to as the decedent. If the decedent has minor children, the Last Will and Testament may also be used to designate who they want to care for their children and who they wish to handle their children’s inheritance/finances until each child comes of age (usually 18, but you can designate a different age) to handle their finances on their own.

In a Last Will and Testament, the decedent usually also names a personal representative—or co-personal representatives (two or more persons acting together in this capacity)—to manage the matters of the estate. The personal representative is the person who gathers all of the information about the decedent’s debts and assets, pays outstanding debts using the assets on behalf of the estate, and ensures that the decedent’s property is distributed as specified in the Will, so this is a job with a lot of responsibility, and the personal representative selected is usually someone the decedent really trusts to follow through on the details and with his or her wishes.

If a person dies without having a valid Last Will and Testament (which usually—in most states—means it must be properly witnessed, as well—not just signed), someone will usually be appointed by the court to be the personal representative and will pay the decedent’s debts, liquidizing assets as necessary to do so. Then the remaining assets will be distributed among the decedent’s heirs according to the laws of the state the decedent lived in.

In some states, if one spouse dies leaving behind a husband or wife, that living spouse will inherit all of the decedent’s property in the absence of a Last Will and Testament stating to the contrary. In other cases, the decedent may have specified a particular beneficiary to inherit a life insurance policy, retirement account, or other asset, and that beneficiary designation will dictate who receives those assets in the absence of a Illinois Last Will and Testament.

The important thing to note is that anyone who wishes to designate how their assets will be distributed after their death should prepare and properly execute a Last Will and Testament to ensure their wishes are known and honored. If they don’t, they may be leaving it up to chance, the laws of the state in which they reside at the time of their death, or a court of law as to how their final affairs will be settled.  Illinois free information on last will and testament forms.

Legal Requirements for Last Will in Illinois

The Last Will and Testament is a legal document needed by every person: it is crucial for the planning of the future after one’s death. In short, it claims the distribution of one’s estate and personal property after one will be considered dead. In Illinois, one can not only dedicate the property and estate to significant others (a wife, children, brothers, sisters, and so forth) but the charitable organizations as well, in the form of gifts. The ones to whom the assets are distributed are referred to as Beneficiaries.

The Last Will is frequently mixed with Living Will, and there are different requirements for such a record. Here, we discuss the Last Will document.

It is important to acknowledge that if the Last Will is not made by the person and the person becomes deceased, and the court has full capability to distribute the assets anyhow they want due to Intestacy laws. The same case occurs when the Will was only made verbally. That is exactly the reason why it is recommended to fill out the form. While it is important to be careful while filling out the form, it is also important to be ensured that all legal requirements concerning the Will are met.

In each State of the United States, there are compulsory requirements that should be met in order to successfully fill out the form:

  • The document should be written and typed out, and it should not be written by hand;

  • The document must be signed by the one who writes the Will. This person is referred to as Testator or Testatrix in most cases;

  • The document should be signed by two witnesses. Each witness should observe the process of document completion and observe each other’s signing of the form;

  • In case the Testator or Testatrix is physically incompetent, they can direct somebody to write the form for themselves.

Not to mention, there are some special requirements for the Last Will document in each state. In Illinois, they are as per the following:

  • Any person from the age of 18 or an emancipated person can make a Last Will, in case they are in ‘sound mind and memory. This expression implies that the person should be conscious and was not found incompetent in the previous legal proceeding;

  • Anybody who is considered to be ‘credible’ has an opportunity to Witness a Will, as stated in Section 755 ILCS 5/4-3. Moreover, it is mentioned that the Witness should be ‘disinterested,’ so they should not necessarily be the beneficiaries of the Last Will;

  • In case the authenticity of the Will is unchallenged, then it can be probated in a more simple procedure if it has been self-proven. In a self-proven Will case, the witnesses are not obliged to testify in court, as the court accepts the self-proven Will to be valid, according to Section 755 ILCS 5/6-4;

  • The document should be notarially verified. The Testator or Testatrix has the ability to notarize the record for extra legal protection.



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