Many individuals tend to drag their feet on creating a Will and estate plan based on their perception that it’s too pricey or challenging. If you find yourself in this group, what if we told you this is no longer the case? Thanks to technology and the modernization of relevant laws, you can now create your Will and other estate planning documents online, making the process more convenient and affordable than it ever was before.
The overall process of creating Wills is similar from state to state, but the specific requirements often vary. This is because the laws that govern estate plans and Wills are created by state governments instead of the federal government. If you plan to make an online Will in Illinois, then you must take care to satisfy the requirements set forth by Illinois statutes in order for your Will to be valid. This guide will provide an overview of what you need to know about making a Will online in the Prairie State.
What You Need to Know About Making a Will Online in Illinois
The key thing to know about making a Will online in Illinois is that there are rules set forth by state statutes. The laws that dictate the process of executing a valid Will can be found in the Illinois Compiled Statutes 5 Probate Act of 1975 Article IV Wills.
An online Will is recognized by Illinois probate courts so long as the above-cited legal requirements are satisfied. Trust & Will breaks down these legal requirements over the next several sections by answering some frequently asked questions on the topic.
How Much Does a Will Cost in Illinois?
The cost of a Will in Illinois can vary and depends on three factors: your method of execution, any applicable attorney fees, and the complexity of your estate. An estimated average for a simple Will is around $300, while the cost may be closer to $1,000 if your estate is complex.
For example, an individual with a particularly robust or complex estate plan with special provisions may hire one of the most experienced estate planning attorneys in the state. This person’s estate planning costs will likely be in the higher range. The cost may even rise to several thousand dollars if they wish to establish a Trust.
However, most individuals have a relatively simple estate with straightforward objectives. Trust & Will’s online estate planning platform provides Illinois residents with an affordable alternative. You can create your state-specific online Will through our platform at a fraction of the cost.
Are Online Wills Legal in Illinois?
Yes, both online Wills and eWills are legal in Illinois.
On July 26, 2021, the governor of Illinois signed the Electronic Wills and Remote Witnesses Act into law. This Act allows Testators to create and attest electronic Wills in Illinois such that they are legally valid. 755 ILCS 6 Article 5 Electronic Wills addresses the rules surrounding the execution of electronic Wills specifically.
This means that not only can residents of the Prairie State create their Wills online, they may also witness, execute, and notarize their Wills electronically. Prior to this revision to the estate planning statutes, a Will could be created online but still had to be printed on paper, signed, and witnessed physically. Today, an eWill can remain in its digital format from end to end, never having to be reduced to paper.
With this exciting news in mind, here are the legal requirements for making an online Will:
You must be at least 18 years old
You must be of sound mind and memory
The Will must be in writing
The Will must be signed before two credible witnesses
It must also be signed by the two credible witnesses who cannot be beneficiaries named in the Will
The Prairie State also allows remote online notarization (RON). You are permitted to use audio-visual communication to connect with witnesses and a notary public remotely to digitally sign and attest your eWill.
Is It Legal to Write Your Own Will in Illinois?
Yes, it is legal to write your own Will in Illinois. However, it is important to note that holographic Wills are not considered legally valid. These are Wills that are written and signed by the Testator only, which are considered valid in some states. In Illinois, you can only write your own Will if you sign it and also obtain two witness signatures.
However, writing your Will on your own may leave you vulnerable to errors and pitfalls that could render your wishes legally unenforceable, even if you technically followed the rules.
Instead, we highly recommend obtaining professional estate planning support. Some individuals choose not to work with an attorney for specific reasons, such as wanting to keep their private information to themselves or finding attorney fees cost-prohibitive.
Whatever the reason may be, an alternative solution to consider is creating a Will using a trustworthy platform. For example, Trust & Will’s estate planning platform offers state-specific estate plans so you can have peace of mind knowing that your Will is compliant in Illinois and will satisfy your desired objectives. We also offer bank-level security to protect your private information.
What are the Requirements for a Will to be Valid in Illinois?
The following outlines the legal requirements for a valid online Will in Illinois:
The Will must be in writing.
The Testator (the person writing the Will) must be at least 18 years old and be of sound mind and memory.
The Will must be signed by the Testator before two credible witnesses.
Must also be signed by the two credible witnesses who cannot be beneficiaries, spouses or children of the beneficiaries, or creditors.
Can I File a Will Without an Attorney in Illinois?
No, you do not need a lawyer to file a Will in Illinois. Generally speaking, Prairie State laws do not require you to hire a lawyer to create or execute a valid Will. However, you may want to consult an estate planning professional for advice if you have a large estate or special conditions that you wish to meet.
Otherwise, making your Will online is a reliable and convenient option. This is especially so when your wishes are straightforward and your estate is relatively simple. Trust & Will’s online estate planning platform will guide you through the process of creating and executing a Will that is compliant in your state.
How Do I Sign an Online Will in Illinois?
Here are the steps to follow for signing and finalizing your online Will in Illinois:
Print out your Will unless it is electronic
Sign your Will in the presence of two witnesses (can be an electronic signature)
Have your two witnesses sign the Will in your presence
Optional: Attach a notarized affidavit to make your Will self-proving
Once you complete the steps above, you will have a legal and valid Will in Illinois.
Do You Need a Notary for a Will in Illinois?
No, a Will does not need to be notarized in Illinois. While it is optional, it’s an encouraged step to make your Will “self-proving.”
During the notarization (remote or physical), you and your witnesses will confirm your identities and make sworn statements. An affidavit is signed, notarized, and attached to the Will. This process proves that the notary knows who you are and confirms that each person was aware that they were signing the Will.
If the Will is self-proving, then the probate court won’t have to call upon the witnesses to testify regarding the Will’s validity. This can help minimize potential issues and allow the probate process to proceed more quickly.
Now that Illinois has enabled the recognition of both eWills and remote online notarization (RON), getting your Will notarized is even easier. Trust & Will has partnered with Notarize, a trusted online notary service to allow for the seamless notarization of eWills online.
Who Cannot Witness a Will in Illinois?
In Illinois, you cannot witness a Will if any of the following apply:
You are under the age of 18
You do not have sound mind or memory
You are a beneficiary (or spouse or child of a beneficiary) named by the Testator
You are a creditor
You otherwise stand to benefit from the Will
You are not physically located in the U.S. (if you are witnessing remotely)
In general, beneficiaries and their direct relatives should not be witnesses for a Will. This could invalidate their inheritances or otherwise lead to challenges or claims against the validity of the Will. At a minimum, doing so can further delay the probate process. It is generally advised to select disinterested parties as your witnesses, even if your state’s regulations don’t expressly forbid it.
How to Create Illinois Last Will and Testament Online
Illinois now recognizes eWills, making the online Will creation process even more seamless. Once you create your Will, you no longer have to print it out if you wish to maintain an electronic or digital format. This will provide a much more convenient and affordable alternative to estate planning the traditional way.
With this in mind, here is an overview of the steps of creating an online Will in Illinois:
Select a trusted online estate planning platform, service, or template.
Draft your Will
Review and finalize your Will
Sign the Will (digital signature allowed) in the presence of two witnesses
Obtain signatures from your witnesses
Get your Will notarized if you want it to be self-proving (electronic/remote allowed)
Store your Will in a secure storage space online, such as a digital vault
Review and revise your Will regularly
What Can I Include in an Online Will in Illinois?
Here are some ideas on what can be included in your online Will:
An inventory of your property and assets
A list of your Beneficiaries
Gifts made to specific individuals or organizations
Your nominated Executor who should handle your estate
A Guardian for any minor or dependent children (or pets)
A named individual to manage property for dependent children
Last wishes regarding your remains, funeral, burial, cremation, etc.
Any final instructions or notes for loved ones
The contents of a Last Will and Testament vary widely based on an individual’s personal circumstances, as well as the objectives they wish to achieve. Must estate planning platforms such as Trust & Will will guide you through a series of questions and prompts to help create a Will customized to your unique needs.
Create Your Online Will in Illinois Today
Illinois is one of the U.S. states taking the lead in allowing residents to create both online Wills and electronic Wills. Online Wills are Wills that are created online, but are eventually reduced to paper for signing and witnessing. Electronic Wills remain in digital format from start to finish, and are never reduced to paper. They utilize audio-visual conferencing tools and electronic signatures. It’s a boon to digital users and to the environment!
Regardless of the method you choose, one thing remains unchanged. The key to successfully creating an online Will in Illinois is making sure that you satisfy all applicable state requirements. Creating your Will online, no matter your location, is a convenient and affordable alternative to working with an estate planning attorney. This guide provided an overview of the online Will requirements in the Prairie State that you should be aware of.
At Trust & Will, we’re here to help keep things simple. You can create a fully customizable, state-specific estate plan from the comfort of your own home in just 20 minutes. Take our free quiz to see where you should get started, or compare our different estate planning and settlement options today!
Trust & Will is an online service providing legal forms and information. We are not a law firm and we do not provide legal advice.