The family of online shoe store Zappo’s founder Tony Hsieh is going through extra stress following his death in December of 2020 because Hsieh did not file a will. The entrepreneur’s estate and fortune, valued at $500 million, is being fought over in court, with his handwritten sticky notes used as key evidence for how his assets will be divided. The millionaire died of smoke inhalation from a house fire – and now, how his money will be divided is being determined by the courts, and could take years to be finalized.
The sad reality is nearly 60% of Americans don’t have a will or trust. An estate planning attorney can help you identify key issues to protect your family’s future and the legal documents that will protect your loved ones.
The cost, stress and time to settle the estate of someone who dies without a will can place an easily avoided burden on their family and loved ones. The most important gift you can give your family is peace of mind by letting them know your wishes for how your assets should be handled after your death.
1. Write A Will
No matter how young you are, and how much money you have, if you have assets – property, money, a car, an insurance policy or retirement account – you need a will. If you die without a will, you are considered intestate, and the state determines how your assets will be distributed.
• It can take at minimum 6 – 12 months to settle an estate and is often longer if there are many debtors, or if there are disputes between family members.
• The cost to settle an estate through probate can be easily 10-20% of the value of the estate, and more if the estate goes into litigation.
2. A Handwritten Will May Be Valid in Illinois
A handwritten will may be valid in Illinois if it meets the legal requirements. Illinois probate requirements for a valid will are:
• The testator (the creator of the will) must be at least 18 years old.
• The testator must be of sound mind and have the mental capacity to understand the consequences of his or her actions.
• The will must be signed by the testator in the presence of at least two witnesses, who must also sign the will.
This holiday season, gift your loved ones peace of mind by consulting an experienced estate planning attorney to ensure your family and heirs are protected after you are gone.
This holiday season, give the gift of peace of mind. Protect your family’s future by contacting an experienced estate planning attorney at Estate & Probate Legal Group at 630-864-5835.
AREAS WE SERVE: Cook, DuPage, Kane, Lake, and Will counties