What is Required for a Will to Be Valid in Illinois?

What is Required for a Will to Be Valid in Illinois?

Video by Attorney Kevin O'Flaherty
Article written by Illinois & Iowa Attorney Kevin O'Flaherty
Updated on
October 28, 2019

In this article we will explain what is required for a will to be valid in Illinois and answer the following questions: “what is a handwritten will?”, “is a handwritten will legal in Illinois?”, and “can I make changes to my will without an attorney?”, “what is a holographic will?”, “is a will executed in a different state legal in Illinois?”, and “why should I use an attorney to prepare my will?”

What is Required for a Will to Be Valid in Illinois?

Illinois requirements for valid wills are stated in Article 4 of the Probate Act.  In order for a will to be valid in Illinois:

In the event of a person being incapable of signing his or her own will, the law provides that he or she  may name a different person to sign the will  on his or her behalf.  

What is a Handwritten Will?

A handwritten will is considered to be a will that is self-authored without the help of an attorney.  There are different types of handwritten wills, and the legality of each of them varies.

Is a Handwritten Will Legal in Illinois?

The requirements for validity of a will stated above apply equally to handwritten wills and wills prepared with the assistance of an attorney.  A handwritten will that meets all of Illinois’ requirements is legally valid.  

Can I Make Handwritten Changes to My Will Without an Attorney?

If a Will was modified in handwriting, the modifications will not be legally valid unless the modifications are executed and witnessed in the same manner as described above. A testator may not take a Will that was typed with the help of an attorney and cross out or handwrite certain changes into it.

What is a Holographic Will?

A will is known as “holographic” if it was handwritten without any witnesses. In Illinois, holographic wills are not legal, because they do not meet Illinois’ requirement that a will must be executed before two witnesses.

Is a Will Executed in a Different State Legal in Illinois?

The general rule is that if a will was created in a different state in which the testator then resided, and the testator subsequently moved to and died in Illinois, Illinois will uphold the foreign will so long as it is valid in the state in which it was executed.  However, Illinois does not accept holographic wills under any circumstances.

Why Should I Use an Attorney to Prepare My Will?

Although handwritten wills are legal in Illinois, there are many benefits to preparing a will with the assistance of an attorney:

  • Wills prepared by an attorney are less likely to be successfully challenged in a will contest;
  • Attorneys use language that anticipates future scenarios, so that the will is less likely to require an update based on changed life circumstances;
  • Handwritten wills are more likely to be vague, ambiguous, or misinterpreted than wills prepared by an attorney; and
  • Handwritten wills are more likely to have critical errors in their drafting that cause their intent to be frustrated and the estate to be distributed in a way that does not comply with the testator’s actual wishes.  

Additional Financial Considerations
from Financial Experts

From Financial Experts

For many years, financial institutions have been creating a disservice to clients and the industry as a whole for years.
View More Professional Considerations

Presented By O'Flaherty Law

What is a Handwritten Will?

Need Legal Help? 

Schedule a

What to Expect From a Consultation

The purpose of a free consultation is to determine whether our firm is a good fit for your legal needs. Although we often discuss expected results and costs, our attorneys do not give legal advice unless and until you choose to retain us. Although most consultations are complimentary, some may carry a charge depending on the type of matter and meeting location.

Leave a Comment With Your Questions

Read more about

Estate Planning

Disclaimer: Our articles and comment responses do not constitute legal advice and are not intended to create an attorney-client relationship.

Please contact us to schedule a free consultation for legal advice specific to your situation.

Here are some articles that may interest you

Contact us for a Free Consultation

Schedule a free consultation

O'Flaherty Law is happy to meet with you by phone or at our office locations in:

Who We Are
We are your community law firm. Our Illinois & Iowa Attorneys are committed to providing exceptional client service in a cost-effective manner in the areas of Family Law, Probate, Estate Planning, Civil Litigation, Guardianship, Criminal Defense, Corporate & Contract Law, Bankruptcy and Real Estate.

Some of Our Accomplishments

Best Child Support Lawyers in Chicago
DuPage County Probate Attorney
Kevin P. O'Flaherty
Rated by Super Lawyers

loading ...
Naperville attorney
DuPage County Probate Attorney

Subscribe to our mailing list

* indicates required