A will is a testamentary asset transfer instrument that becomes effective upon death and establishes how your personal and real property will be distributed. A will also allows parents to nominate guardians for minor children.
- Requires probate; distribution terms are public. See Whitney Houston’s Will.
- Assets are frozen during probate.
- Allows testator to nominate guardianship of minor children.
- 6-month creditor claim period.
- Probate is not required; distribution terms are private.
- Terms are more legally binding so court battles are less likely.
- Assets are not frozen.
- May protect children or beneficiaries’ financial interests.
- 2-year creditor claim period.
- Wealth preservation is possible.
Not in Illinois. However, a valid will is entered into probate upon the decedent’s death and the probate property is then administered to the appropriate heirs and/or legatees. A valid will in Illinois requires, at the very least, your signature and 2 credible witnesses. If a person dies without a valid will, the probate property passes through to relatives, the County, or the State as dictated by Illinois law.
Generally, if you have a small estate – less than $100,000 in personal property and no real estate- you don’t need a will. Also, even if you have a will but have less than $100,000 in personal property, your beneficiaries are not required to go through probate. However, even under these circumstances, you may need other important documents, in case you have children.
A legatee is one who benefits under a will; heirs are blood relatives determined by state law who may benefit under testamentary documents; and beneficiaries are those who benefit under trusts.