Creating a will can be a complicated legal task. The process for executing a will is not nearly as simple as having the executor place his wishes regarding the disposition of his future estate property in writing and sign it. There is a legally-proscribed method for executing a legally effective will. The rules regarding how a will is to be executed are often interpreted quite strictly. A single deficiency in the execution procedure could lead to the entire will being held as invalid and set aside, forcing an estate into the intestacy process. To ensure that all formalities required for the creation of a valid will have been upheld, it is best to execute your will only in the presence of or at the explicit direction of your attorney. While not always possible in certain circumstances, such as when a testator is in the hospital or a skilled nursing facility, a lawyer’s office is generally the most secure place to execute your last will and testament.
The Formalities of Will Execution in Illinois
While the procedure for executing a will may seem archaic or needlessly strict, these rules are in place to guard against fraud. When a will does not follow the guidelines described in the Illinois Probate Act, it is significantly more difficult to guarantee that a will is legitimate.
Formalities that must be respected when executing a will include:
Witnesses – In Illinois, for a will to be enforceable, a minimum of two witnesses are required. Each witness must attest the will in the presence of the testator. This means that two separate witnesses must see the testator either sign his will or acknowledge that it is his will, and both witnesses must sign while the testator is present. The two witnesses do not need to attest at the same time, but the testator must be there when they do. Witnesses should be credible adults with no interest in the will.
Signature – A will must be signed by the testator. If the testator is physically unable to sign the document personally – for example, if the testator is paralyzed and cannot hold a pen – then he may have another person sign on his behalf at his direction and in his presence. However, the individual who signs on the testator’s behalf cannot double as a witness.
Other evidence may be required in certain situations. For example, if the testator has an ailment that can affect the mind such as Alzheimer’s disease but is still competent to make a will at the time of execution, it would be wise to obtain a letter confirming the testator’s testamentary capacity from a doctor who has performed a competency evaluation close to the time of signing.
Contact an Illinois Wills Attorney
Lucas Law is well-practiced in helping clients execute wills according to Illinois requirements. Our skilled Barrington estate planning lawyers will strive to ensure that your will is valid and can be enforced. Call 847-381-8700 for a consultation.