Will & Estate Planning: Frequently Asked Questions
What is the purpose of a will?
A will is a legal document that instructs your friends and family where you want your possessions to go after your death. A will is a legal document that may be amended during your life, but your final will is your legal binding order of what to do.
Do I need to have a will?
You do not have to have a will, but it is highly advised that you have one. A final Will prevents your personal items from going through the probate court, which adds high amounts of stress to your grieving friends and family. Wills also give you a final chance to direct your friends and family in ways that you see fit.
What is a Power of Attorney?
A power of Attorney is a legal document that allows you to give your legal ability for property, financial, or medical decisions to someone else that you trust. A power of Attorney typically kicks in at a time when you become incapable of making decisions for yourself, but you can also have a Power of attorney issued for very certain instances laid out in the Power of Attorney. i.e. Our firm allows you to close on a house without being present through a Power of Attorney for Property that is specifically set up for a closing. This Agent as they are known will need to be someone that you trust with your life because this document allows this person a lot of power, and you want them to follow your wishes and not take advantage of the power you have given them. Except for small limitations, a Power of Attorney is only legally enforceable during the principal’s life and is invalid after death.
If I die without a will what will happen to my property?
If you die without a will (known as intestate) your property will be subject to the laws of Illinois Probate. This process of probate will divide your personal property between your surviving family members, this may go against your wishes. To provide for specific divisions of your personal property you must have a will on file. This will allows for you to give specific things to specific people, and direct people to do what you want with your property.
Do you need an attorney to plan your estate?
No, an attorney is not required to set up an estate plan, but an experienced attorney knows the law when it comes to setting up a legal estate that will be upheld by a court. This document is your last ability to control your property, and an error in drafting a will without an attorney can make your entire will invalid. Attorneys have experience in drafting these documents and know how to correctly draft this type of document.