Are Handwritten Changes to Your Will Valid?

naperville estate planning lawyerWriting a last will and testament is a crucial responsibility that many people neglect. When someone dies without a will, they forgo the chance to decide how their property is distributed to heirs. Wills may be used to determine which assets will be inherited by which heirs, appoint a guardian for minor children, describe funeral wishes, and more. Writing a will also saves surviving family members substantial stress and difficulty upon the testator’s death.

Many people have questions about will requirements in Illinois. Do wills have to be typed to be valid? Are handwritten wills legally binding? What if I need to make changes to my will after it is written? Can I make handwritten modifications?

Illinois Last Will and Testament Requirements

Wills must meet certain requirements to be legally enforceable. If a will does not meet these requirements, the deceased person’s wishes may not be followed. Instead, his or her estate will be distributed according to intestate laws.

In Illinois, the following rules apply to wills:

  • The testator must be at least 18 years old
  • The testator must be of sound mind and understand the provisions of the will
  • The testator must sign the will in the presence of two witnesses
  • The two witnesses must sign the will  

You may notice that these requirements do not specify whether the document must be typed on a computer. This is because there are no rules requiring a will to be typed in Illinois. Handwritten wills are valid if they meet all of the other requirements.

Handwritten Changes to Your Will

Many people wonder whether they can make handwritten notes or changes to their will. The technical answer is yes, however, doing so is risky. You are permitted to add a codicil addendum to the will if the requirements for legal validity in Illinois are followed, but this may lead to confusion and misunderstandings. Ambiguous or vague language, poor handwriting, or other errors can diminish the legitimacy of the will. In some cases, a court may be hesitant to uphold handwritten changes. Doubts about the authenticity of the will can also increase the chances of a will contest.

The best way to ensure that your will and any modifications to your will are followed is to work with an experienced estate planning attorney. Your lawyer can assess your will for ambiguity, mistakes, and any other issues that may decrease the authenticity of the document, and take the steps needed to make sure your wishes will be followed.

Contact our Naperville Estate Planning Lawyer

Illinois does accept handwritten wills and handwritten changes to wills. However, there is always a chance that a handwritten note is misinterpreted during probate. Whether your will is typed or handwritten, the best way to ensure its validity is to have it assessed by a skilled estate planning lawyer.

The Naperville will and trust attorneys at the Gierach Law Firm can provide the personalized legal guidance you need when writing a will. Call our office at 630-756-1160 for a confidential consultation.


Illinois Probate Act of 1975

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Please note: These blogs have been created over a period of time and laws and information can change. For the most current information on a topic you are interested in please seek proper legal counsel.

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