While the process to make a will online is similar in every state, there are differences. Every state has its own legal requirements for making a will and for that will to be considered valid. To make a will online in Illinois, you have to follow the state-specific statutes for it to be valid. You want to use an online will that is customized for Illinois as well.
Can I make a will online in Illinois?
Yes, you can make a will online in Illinois. You can use an online will making service to do so USLegalWills is our recommendation to make a will online in Illinois.
Here are the legal requirements for a will to be valid in Illinois:
- The person writing the will, known as the Testator, must be at least 18 years of age and of sound mind.
- The will must be signed by the Testator in front of two witnesses.
- The will must be signed by at least two witnesses. The witnesses must see the Testator sign, and the Testator must see the witnesses sign.
Anyone generally competent to act as a witness may witness a will. However, in Illinois, neither one of your witnesses should be a beneficiary in your will. A witness who stands to inherit may lose the right to their inheritance.
If you make an online will in Illinois, you must print it out. The state of Illinois does not currently allow digital-only wills—or wills that are made online, signed, and witnessed electronically without making a paper copy. Illinois requires an online will to be on paper for it to be valid.
Does Illinois require a notarized will?
No, Illinois does not require you to notarize your will to make it valid. When a will is presented in the probate court, it must be validated. This process usually entails that the probate court calls upon your witnesses to testify to the authenticity of your will.
Having a notarized will can help the probate court to quickly validate the will. However, it actually is not the will itself that is notarized. A separate document, called a “self-proving affidavit,” is what gets notarized. This document is attached to the will (making the will “self-proved”), which means the probate court may choose not to require the witnesses to testify and instead choose to validate the will from the affidavit.
You can make your will “self-proved” in Illinois by having you and your witnesses make a sworn statement (an affidavit) in front of a notary public and then attaching it to your will. This may speed up the probate process.
Can I name an executor in Illinois?
Yes, you can name an executor in Illinois (and you can also do so in a will made online). An executor is the person designated to settle the state, making sure that the will is followed. It is a good idea to name someone as the executor in your will, otherwise the probate court will have to appoint someone. It is best to choose someone you know and trust, someone who you know can perform the duties of an executor. You want to discuss this with them before naming them as the executor in your will.
Here are the requirements for an executor in Illinois:
- The executor must be at least 18 years old.
- The executor must be a U.S. citizen.
- The executor must be of sound mind, that is, must not have been judged incapacitated by a court.
- The executor must not have been convicted of a felony.
In addition to the above requirements, Illinois probate court rejects potential executors found to be a “disabled person.” This is a legal definition of a person determined by the court—a person can be declared legally disabled from mental illness, addiction issues or gambling issues, as well as physical conditions. If someone you named as the executor of your estate becomes legally declared as a “disabled person,” the court will reject them as the executor.
You can name someone who lives out-of-state to serve as the executor of your estate in Illinois. However, it might not be a practical decision as settling an estate can sometimes take weeks or months. The state of Illinois also requires a non-resident executor to designate a “resident agent” (a person or incorporation that is a resident in Illinois to act on their behalf) for the service of process.
Do I need an attorney to make a will in Illinois?
No, in Illinois, you do not need an attorney to make a will. If your estate is simple and your will is straightforward, online will making is a good option. To make a will online in Illinois, you want to make sure you follow the legal requirements for a will to be valid. Make sure you use an online will making service that has state-specific templates.
If your estate is very large or complex, it is wise to consult an estate planning attorney.
What types of wills are valid in Illinois?
Any type of will which meets the federal and state-specific requirements is valid in Illinois, whether the will is made online or not.
Can I make a holographic will in Illinois?
A holographic will is a handwritten last will and testament. It is written and signed by the Testator (the person making the will). In Illinois, holographic wills are not considered legally binding.
It is not because the will is handwritten that invalidates it—it is because Illinois requires that a will be signed by two witnesses in order for the will to be valid. A holographic will is not recognized because only the Testator has signed it.
Can I make a nuncupative or video will in Illinois?
A nuncupative will is an oral will, which sometimes people leave on video. A nuncupative will (also known as a deathbed will) is usually an emergency or last resort type of will, made when someone is facing imminent death. A nuncupative will is better than leaving no instructions at all, but the state of Illinois does not recognize nuncupative wills. Unless all your heirs agree to the terms and settle the estate that way, terms left in a nuncupative will are not recognized as legally binding in Illinois.
Illinois requires two witnesses to sign a will for a will to be valid—like holographic wills, nuncupative wills do not meet that requirement.
How is a living will different from an online will in Illinois?
Sometimes known as an advance directive, or an advance health care directive, a living will is a legal document which gives instructions on medical decisions and end-of-life care. A last will and testament and a living will are not the same, and an online will and a living will are not the same. These are two separate documents. A last will and testament, whether made online or not, is where you instruct how to disburse your property or where you appoint guardians to minor children. A living will is where you put medical directives and end-of-life care decisions.
You can make both a last will and testament and a living will online. You can find the form to make a living will in Illinois online here. For a living will to be valid in Illinois, it must be printed and signed in front of two adult witnesses, who also sign it in front of you. Your witnesses cannot be:
- Your attending physician or any other medical provider caring for you (or a relative of theirs),
- An owner, operator, or a relative or spouse of theirs, of a healthcare facility in which you are a patient or resident,
- Your parent, sibling, child, or any of their spouses,
- Your health care agent, or relatives of theirs, or any of their spouses,
- Anyone directly financially responsible for your medical care, or
- Anyone entitled to any portion of your estate.
Why do I need to make a will online in Illinois?
If you die without a will, the intestacy laws of Illinois will determine what happens to all the property which belonged to you. The state will appoint a guardian for any minors as well as an executor for your estate. It becomes a lengthy legal process, often holding up your property in probate court for months at a time. The estate will be divided between surviving family members according to the intestacy distribution laws of Illinois.
If you have children or if you own property, it is wise to make a will. When you make a will online in Illinois, you can decide exactly how you want your property divided, which shortens the probate process. You can also make other decisions regarding your estate.
What can I include in an online will in Illinois?
You can include the following when you make an online will:
- The executor of your estate.
- A guardian for minor children.
- A trusted person to oversee any property left to minor children.
- A trusted person to care for pets.
- Property or gifts to family members or friends.
- Property or gifts to charities or other organizations.
- How to disburse family heirlooms.
- How to disburse personal or sentimental items.
What should not be included in a will in Illinois?
You should not include the following in a will:
- Medical directives.
- End-of-life care instructions.
- Funeral arrangements.
For medical directives and end-of-life care instructions, you want to make a living will.
For funeral arrangements, you can talk to your family about your wishes. You can also make a separate document describing your wishes, which you should give to the executor of your estate or other trusted persons.
A last will and testament is usually not consulted until after the funeral. If you leave any of the above in your will, it is likely your family will not know about them until after the funeral.
Can I change or revoke an online will made in Illinois?
Whether you make it online or not, a will is a legally binding document. But you can change or revoke a will at any time.
In Illinois, here are ways to change or revoke a will:
- With the intent and purpose of revoking it, you can physically destroy the will. You can burn it, tear it, shred it, or otherwise destroy it in any way.
- You can order someone else to physically destroy it in front of you.
- You can write a new will that either states it revokes the old one or includes contradictory terms to the old one.
After any major life change—marriage, divorce, birth of a child, adoption, or acquisition of significant assets, or relocation to another state or country—it is a good idea to update your will. It is best to write a new will entirely, revoking the old one. But if you want to make only minor changes or additions, you can instead add an amendment with the changes (known as a codicil) to your will. A codicil must be finalized in the same way that the original will is finalized.
How do I finalize an online will in Illinois?
After you make a will online in Illinois, you want to finalize it by:
- Printing it out,
- Signing it in front of two witnesses,
- Having the two witnesses sign it in your presence.
You can attach a notarized affidavit to your will to make it “self-proved,” which may help the court validate your will quicker. You and your witnesses make this affidavit in front of a notary public, which you then attach to your will.
Be sure to consider these special considerations in Illinois:
- You cannot revoke a will through leaving a nuncupative will or a holographic will.
- If terms in a prenuptial agreement conflict with a will, the prenup takes precedence over the subsequent will.
- You can disinherit anyone in Illinois, including your spouse. If you are planning on disinheriting someone in your will, it is best to consult an attorney to help guarantee it is enforceable.
USLegalWills is our recommendation to make a will online in Illinois. Their pricing is fair and the process of making an online will is easy. You can also create a Living Will. USLegalWills offers a free service to document funeral wishes and save final messages for loved ones.