There is a common misconception that only those individuals with sizable assets need a will or those that own real estate. This is simply untrue and is a dangerous misconception. Anyone who has an interest in directing their assets should have a will and anyone that has a desire to make distributions of their assets easier should have a will.
At the most basic explanation, if you die without a will, the laws of the State of Illinois will create an estate plan for you. There is a system of “intestate” succession or “descent by distribution” that is set forth by statute and is too complex for a detailed discussion here. But the result is not always the desired result and sometimes can lead to unfortunate results.
For instance, the law tells us both the persons to whom your property will pass and the division of your estate among those persons. Also, the distributions provided by law are inflexible and may not satisfy your desires as to the distribution of your estate. Most importantly to a lot of us, if your children are minors at the time of your death, a cumbersome and costly legal guardianship will be necessary to determine distributions.
If you die without a will and your spouse and children survive you, not all of your probate assets will pass to your surviving spouse, your executor will have to post an expensive insurance bond. The problems of dying without a will are aggravated if a married couple owns a family business with 50 percent owned by each spouse as separate property. If you die and are survived by your children only, leaving no surviving spouse, your entire estate will pass to your children. If your children are minors, a guardianship will be necessary to manage the property.
As you can see, each of the above scenarios may not accurately reflect your wishes with respect to the distribution of your property. By drafting a will, you take control of exactly how your estate will be managed and distributed. In addition, you can name who will raise your children by appointing a guardian in your will. Keep in mind that this appointment is crucial if both parents are not living because if one parent is still living, he or she ordinarily will raise and support the children. If you do not have a will, the court will make the selection of a guardian.
With the proper planning and drafting of a will, you should be able to take comfort in knowing that your wishes with respect to the distribution of your property and the guardianship of your children will survive you.
This office does not charge for an estate planning consultation and you should call now so that we may develop an estate plan that accomplishes all your desires and wishes.
Disclaimer: The information provided on is not intended to be legal advice, but merely conveys general information related to legal issues commonly encountered.