Understanding The Importance Of A Will

Wills are essential estate planning tools that secure your assets and protect your family legacy. Gullberg, Box, Worby & Rogers LLC can help you strategically incorporate a custom will into your overall estate plan. Below, you will find some of our clients' frequently asked questions to provide you with more information about the benefits of having a will.

What Happens To My Property If I Don't Have A Will?

In Illinois after you pass away your real estate (your house and/ or land) and your personal property (the money in your bank accounts and your other assets) is known as your estate.

If you don't have a will and you own real estate (a house and/ or land) or your personal property (the money in your bank accounts and your other stuff) is worth more than $100,000 someone (usually a relative) will have to open an intestate probate case for you. The court will then appoint someone to be the administrator of your estate (manage the property of your estate). The administrator will prepare an inventory (list) of everything in your estate, pay debts against your estate, and distribute the balance of your estate to your heirs.

If you don't own real estate (a house and/ or land) and your personal property (the money in your bank accounts and your other stuff) is worth $100,000 or less, it is possible that a small estate affidavit can be used to distribute the balance of your estate to your heirs.

If you are married and you and your spouse own your house and/or land in joint tenancy with right of survivorship, the house and land should automatically pass to the joint tenant and that property should not have to go through probate. But when the surviving spouse dies, it most likely will have to go through probate.

Who your heirs are will be depends upon whether you are married or not, whether you have kids or not, and - basically - your family tree. For instance:

(a) If you are married and have kids (either over 18 or under), and both your spouse and your kids survive you:
½ of the balance of your estate will go to your surviving spouse, and
½ of the balance of your estate will go to your surviving kids and be divided among them equally.

This means that if you are married with a 2-year-old son and both your spouse and your son survive you, your surviving spouse will end up with ½ of the balance of your estate and your surviving son will end up with the other ½ of the balance of your estate.

(b) If you are not married (never married, divorced, widowed), but you do have kids (either over 18 or under), and your kids survive you:
the entire balance of your estate will go to your surviving kids and be divided among them equally.

(c) If you are married, but you do not have kids, and your spouse survives you:
the entire balance of your estate will go to your surviving spouse.

(d) If you are not married (never married, divorced, widowed), you do not have kids, but each of your parents and all your brother and sisters survive you:
the entire balance of your estate goes to your parents, your brothers, and your sisters and is divided among them equally.

Of course, if you make a will, you can name exactly who you want to manage your estate (executor) and exactly who you want to inherit your property.

I Live In Illinois And Have Children Under The Age Of 18. What Happens To Them If I Don't Have A Will?

If you don't have a will, someone (usually a relative) will have to open a probate case for you. Then, in addition to appointing someone to be the Administrator of your Estate (manage the property of your estate), the court will appoint a person or persons to be the guardian of the property and of the person of your child(ren).

This means that, if you do not have a will that names someone to act as the guardian of the property and of the person of your child(ren) and your child is left without a parent to care for them, one or more of your surviving family members and/ or friends will have to petition the court to be named guardian of the property and of the person of your child(ren).

Of course, if you make a will, you can name the person you want to be the guardian of the property of your child(ren) and the person you want to be the guardian of the person of your child(ren). This can be the same person or two different individuals.

If you have minor children, the ability to name a guardian for your children in a will is probably the single most important reason to create a will.

Contact Us For Strategic Estate Planning Assistance

A free initial consultation is available. Call 309-760-4022 today to schedule an appointment. You may also contact us online. Our lawyers have Illinois offices in Monmouth and Peoria.

The information provided on this page and the pages associated with it are intended to provide general information. Each situation is unique, and we recommend that you contact one of our experienced estate planning attorneys if you need assistance with a particular legal matter.