Creating a will is one of the most important things you can accomplish for yourself and your loved ones. A will is the foundation of your estate plan, which is a way for you to spell out your wishes and protect your assets and family.

But there can be a lot of confusion and misunderstanding about writing a will. Societal myths and legal complications can make the process intimidating. To clear the air, here are some answers to commonly asked questions about creating a will in Illinois.

What happens if you die without a will?

 Dying without a will is also called “dying intestate.” If this happens, the state will distribute your property according to the law. Illinois intestacy laws prioritize the following:

  • Spouse
  • Children
  • Grandchildren
  • Parents
  • Siblings
  • Grandparents
  • Aunts and uncles
  • Cousins
  • Nieces and nephews
  • Great grandparents

But the ways the court will divide your property is likely not in line with your own wishes, which is why it is so important to explain your desires in your will.

How do you make sure the will is valid?

 Each state has unique requirements for creating a will that will hold up in court. According to Illinois estate laws, you must sign the document in the presence of two witnesses. These witnesses must also sign your will while you are present.

Should you name an executor?

 Appointing an executor is an important step in creating your will. An executor is a person who is responsible for carrying out the provisions in your will once you die. The core duties of an executor are paying debts and distributing assets to heirs. You should designate someone in your life whom you can trust. Common executors include spouses, adult children, siblings or close friends.

Is a will all you need?

 While it is important to write a will, it is usually not efficient to serve as the only aspect of your estate plan. You may also need to consider a durable power of attorney, living will and assets that pass outside of your will.