For most people, a Last Will and Testament serves as the foundation of their comprehensive estate plan. For some, a Will is their entire estate plan. Whether your Will is simply the starting point for your estate plan or is both the starting and ending point, there is no doubt that your Will is an important document. As such, care must be taken when drafting and executing your Will. Once your Will is ready to be executed, you may wish to take the additional step of making your Will a “ self-proving ” Will.
In the normal course of events, when a decedent dies and leaves behind a Last Will and Testament the Executor of the estate must present the Will to the court for probate purposes and then the court must admit the Will. To admit the Will for probate the court must be convinced of the Will’s authenticity and veracity. Historically, this required the court to locate the witnesses to the signing of the Will and call them before the court to testify. Today, the State of Illinois allows a Will to be “self-proving” which eliminates the need to locate and summon witnesses to the Will before the court.
755 ILCS 5/6-4 governs admission of a Will to probate, stating as follows:
Sec. 6-4. Admission of will to probate – testimony or affidavit of witnesses.) (a) When each of 2 attesting witnesses to a will states that (1) he was present and saw the testator or some person in his presence and by his direction sign the will in the presence of the witness or the testator acknowledged it to the witness as his act, (2) the will was attested by the witness in the presence of the testator and (3) he believed the testator to be of sound mind and memory at the time of signing or acknowledging the will, the execution of the will is sufficiently proved to admit it to probate, unless there is proof of fraud, forgery, compulsion or other improper conduct which in the opinion of the court is deemed sufficient to invalidate or destroy the will.
In Illinois, to make your Will self-proving your witnesses should accompany you to the notary public where they will sign an affidavit indicating that you are who you say you are, that they watched you sign the Will, and that you were of sound mind when you executed your Will. Once that is done you will then have a self-proving Will.
If you have additional questions or concerns about creating or executing a self-proving Will in Illinois contact the experienced Illinois estate planning attorneys at Nash, Nash, Bean & Ford, LLP by calling 309-944-2188 to schedule your appointment today.
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