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A Will is a basic estate plan you prepare that contains your wishes for who is to receive your property and how much they will receive that your chosen Executor presents to Probate Court for approval after your death.
What is a Self-Proving Will?
A Self Proving Will requires an attachment containing an affidavit from your witnesses that proves that your Will was authentic, signed in front of them, and met the competency requirements.
If your witnesses sign and attest in the presence of a notary public who also signs the affidavit, Illinois courts and courts in many other states will accept the affidavit that your Will is valid, and the court will admit your Will to Probate.
A valid Self Proven Will avoids the requirement that your witnesses appear in Probate Court to verify their attestation.
Frequently Asked Questions
What is a Last Will and Testament?
A Last Will and Testament is a legally binding document establishing the distribution of your assets at your death. In the Will, you name your beneficiaries and their share of your estate. Wills are as descriptive and as detailed as you wish.
What are the Requirements of my Will?
Your Will must be signed in front of two witnesses who have no interest in your estate and can testify that you are of sound mind and memory. It is also advisable to have your Will signed and Witnessed in front of a Notary for it to be “Self-Proving.”
What is Probate?
If you become incapacitated and when you die, your estate is subject to Probate. Probate is a court system that handles every person’s estate with assets in their name. And the system also supervises the administration and distribution of your estate at your death.
What is an Executor/Personal Representative?
An Executor is often called a Personal Representative.
- File your Will in Probate
- Open your estate and pay the filing fees
- Secure an insurance bond and pay the policy premiums to protect your estate during administration
- Obtain court approval to act on behalf of your estate
- Notify your heirs and beneficiaries
- Prepare your property for sale
- Consolidate your assets
- Prepare an accounting for your beneficiaries
- File a public notification of your estate administration and pay to publish it
- Notify all creditors
- Pay all your debts
- Distribute your assets to your chosen beneficiaries or heirs
- Obtain court approval for a Guardian for any minor children (under age 18)
- Create a Testamentary Trust on behalf of any minor beneficiary for court approval to hold and administer for the minors until their eighteenth birthday
- Prepare and file a final tax return for your estate
- Prepare a Final Report to present to Probate Court for approval and signature of all beneficiaries
- Obtain a court order to close your estate.
What are the benefits of a Will?
Although a Will must be filed in Probate and is subject to the court’s approval and administration, a Will does allow you to choose your beneficiaries, so the court doesn’t decide who receives your assets. A Will also allows you to choose your Executor and make specific gifts to individuals.
A Will also nominates your choice of guardian for your minor children. If you have a Living Trust, this is accomplished in a Pour-Over Will.
What if I don’t have a Will or a Living Trust?
If you die without any formal estate plan, the Probate Court will decide who handles your estate and who receives your assets based on who is determined to be related to you.
Of course, if you have a fully-funded Living Trust, your estate is handled privately outside of Probate Court.
What is a Pour Over Will?
This type of Will is part of your Living Trust estate plan documents. Its purpose is to capture and ‘pour over’ any assets titled in your name when you die and transfer them to your Living Trust.
A Pour-Over Will can accomplish post-death asset transfer to your Living Trust if the collective value of your assets is less than $10,000 to $275,000, depending on your state of legal residence at the time of your death.
Since assets with a collective value of over the Probate limit must go through the Probate process, you should title all assets in your Living Trust name before your death.
Finally, a Pour-Over Will will name the chosen Guardian of your minor children.
What is a Small Estates Affidavit?
This legal document transfers all assets with a collective value of less than the Porbate limit to the beneficiaries of your Will or your heirs if you do not have a Will. The Executor attaches your Will to the affidavit and presents it to financial institutions where you have accounts.
Since your estate is below the Probate limit, the estate doesn’t need to go through the Probate process.
The beneficiary in your Pour-Over Will is your Living Trust.
Is my Executor paid?
Unless you provide otherwise, your Executor can petition the court for payment of time and reimbursement of costs.
How long does my Will stay in Probate?
That depends on whether your estate is contested or has creditors or a complicated financial or family situation.
After the first court hearing, the court admits your Will to Probate.
The average time for the estate to complete Probate is 18 months from an admission of the Will. The most prolonged Probate process our office experienced was 18 years.
Probate is a difficult process for your family.
Does my Spouse require a Will?
Yes, if you are married, your spouse also obtains a Will. Your spouse will be your primary beneficiary at your death. If you are no longer married at your death, your successor beneficiaries will receive your estate.
Transparent Estate Plan Pricing and Benefits
At CBA we understand you have changing needs. Our estate plans are designed and customized to meet your individual and family needs. So you can edit or upgrade at any point in the process if you decide that may need additional options for you and your family.
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