Most people in Naperville realize that it is a good idea to have a will, but with the availability of online forms, you may not be certain whether to create your own will or whether you need an attorney. Because the validity or interpretation of a will may be challenged, many people find it helpful to consult an experienced lawyer when working with issues related to wills.

Before creating, changing, or challenging a will, however, it is helpful to know the basics about Naperville wills. Understanding the factors that affect the validity and effectiveness of a will could help you decide how to proceed in a particular situation.

Basic Terminology Regarding Wills

A will is sometimes referred to as a “last will and testament”. This is a written document that describes how an individual would like to have property distributed after death. A will may also name guardians for minor children and create trusts for their care. The person creating a will is habitually called the testator, and in old-fashioned terms, if that person were a female, she would be known as a testatrix.

As part of a will, the testator often names a trusted person to take responsibility for ensuring that the directions in the will are carried out. This person may be called an executor, administrator, or personal representative. In Naperville, the traditional term “executor” may be the most common.

Someone who receives a bequest of property through a will could be referred to as a beneficiary or legatee, but in legal terms, they would not be considered an heir. The term “heir” technically refers to someone who inherits property from a person who did not have a will.

Requirements to Create a Valid Will

One of the most basic things to understand about wills is how to create a will that complies with state law. To be valid under 755 Ill. Comp. Stat. §5/4-3, a Naperville will must be:

  • Written down (may be in handwriting or typed)
  • Signed by the testator or someone acting at the testator’s direction while the testator is present
  • Attested to by at least two credible witnesses
  • Signed and witnessed by adults aged 18 or older who are of sound mind

Generally, witnesses are considered credible if they are old enough and have the capacity to understand what they are signing. It is best if the witnesses are “disinterested”, meaning that they do not stand to gain anything personally from the will. If a witness is someone designated to receive a bequest in the will, that bequest may be considered void.

Notarization and Attestation Clauses

A will does not need to be notarized to be valid. However, it is wise to have the witnesses sign an attestation clause so that the will could be “self-proved”.

In an attestation clause, the witnesses state under penalty of perjury that they witnessed the proper legal execution of the will. Making a statement “under penalty of perjury” is like making a statement in court. Therefore, when a will contains an attestation clause, the witnesses does not need to be brought to court to attest to the validity of the will.

Beyond the Basics: More Information About Naperville Wills

Wills may be contested on numerous grounds in Naperville. For instance, a relative may argue that a will is invalid because it was fraudulently executed or forged or because the testator lacked the capacity to understand the provisions.

To avoid potential problems with validity or misinterpretation of terms, many people in Naperville find it reassuring to work with an experienced attorney who could not only explain the basics about wills but also craft a document to suit their unique needs.