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West Dundee, IL847-428-7725
St. Charles, IL630-200-4882
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Can I Finalize a Will or a Trust During the COVID-19 Crisis?

Posted on in Estate Planning

Kane County estate planning attorneyCoronavirus is a global pandemic that has impacted individuals all over the world. Here in Illinois, Governor J.B. Pritzker issued a “stay at home” order through April 30 to slow the spread of the highly contagious virus. Non-essential businesses are temporarily closed, such as schools, shopping malls, movie theaters, restaurants, and bars. Many people may be wondering if they can still take certain legal action during the order. Law practices are considered essential business, and many firms are utilizing video conferencing to ensure the health and safety of their clients. Although meetings and consultations can be performed virtually, you may have questions or concerns about signing and witnessing important legal documents, such as wills and trusts. If you have an estate planning matter that needs to be resolved, it is still essential to seek professional legal counsel. 

Estate Planning Documents

It is important to plan ahead for your future to make sure your wishes are followed in the event you become incapacitated or pass away. Some of the most common estate planning tools include:

  • Last Will and Testament: A will is a legal document that names an executor to your estate, gives instructions on how your property should be distributed, and designates a guardian for any minor children you have.
  • Living Trust: There are several types of trusts, which can be created for different purposes. A revocable trust is commonly known as a living trust. This document can be changed, altered, modified, or revoked during the grantor’s lifetime. An irrevocable trust cannot be easily changed in order to protect the property from creditors while the grantor is alive. Trusts are commonly used for purposes such as avoiding probate, limiting negative tax implications, and preserving inheritance for your offspring.

Signing and Witnessing Requirements

Under Illinois law, specific legal documents must be signed in the presence of a witness, including wills and trusts. This means that someone must be physically present when the documents are signed. There are generally two types of witnesses: a notary, who is certified, and a document witness, who can be anyone. For example, when signing a will, you need at least two document witnesses to your signature. These must be individuals who are “uninterested parties,” which means they are not named as beneficiaries.  

So, how are firms fulfilling this requirement during the stay at home order? As part of the Disaster Proclamation, the state of Illinois has addressed this issue. Under one of Governor Pritzker’s executive orders, the requirement for having an in-person witness has temporarily been suspended. Specifically, the order allows signatures to be witnessed through a two-way audio/video communication. This order applies to both notary and document witnesses. Therefore, it is possible to have wills and trusts created and finalized from the comfort of your own home.  

Contact a St. Charles Family Law Attorney

There is no denying that COVID-19 has changed our daily lives for the foreseeable future. We are all getting used to a “new normal.” Law firms are considered essential businesses and we are here to assist you with all of your legal needs through virtual conferencing. At the Law Offices of Benedict Schwarz, II PC, we have extensive experience in estate planning matters. Our distinguished Elgin estate planning lawyers are committed to helping you update or finalize your will or trust during this unprecedented time. To schedule your free consultation, call us today at 630-200-4882.

 

Source:

http://www.ilga.gov/legislation/ilcs/ilcs4.asp?DocName=075500050HArt.+IV&ActID=2104&ChapterID=60&SeqStart=5300000&SeqEnd=6800000

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