Donald M. Thompson - Wills, Trusts, and Estate Planning


  • Can say who gets what
  • Can choose executor and guardian for kids
  • Can waive surety on executor's bond - (a surety is an insurance company which agrees to pay if executor defaults - quite expensive)
  • Can direct executor to take specific action he might not otherwise be able to take (retain family company)
  • Can give some property free of debts and other property subject to debts
  • Can make gifts of specific items to particular people
  • Can make conditional gifts, i.e., to X if he does something and if he does not to Y ( must be a legal condition)
  • Can disinherit wife or kids
  • Cannot defeat wife's right to take against will - she can elect to take what will gives or 1/3 of the probate estate if there are descendants or one-half if there are no descendants.
  • Cannot defeat spouse's award, which is in addition to what will gives spouse, of amount necessary for support for nine months - at least $10,000 plus $5000 for each dependent child.

In Illinois you must be 18 or over and of sound mind and memory to make a valid will. The signing of the will must be witnessed by at least two sane and able adults who will not get anything under your will when you die and who see you sign in the presence of each other. Wills can contain language creating trusts to which property is given. They can also give property to trusts that have already been created. Wills that do this are called pour over wills, i.e., the estate's assets pour over to a trust.

A will should dispose of all your property not otherwise disposed of. It should provide for property otherwise disposed of if it does wind up in your probate estate - i.e., if the named beneficiary on a life insurance policy dies before you. It should provide for all possibilities as to survivorship - i.e., a will giving property to a spouse and children should specify who gets the property if there are no surviving spouse and children.

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Chicago Wills Attorney Donald M. Thompson * 55 W. Monroe #3950; Chicago, IL 60603
Ph: 312-782-0844 * Fax: 312-201-1436 * Email: