How Do You Include Non-Family Members In Your Will?

naperville estate planning lawyerMany assume that heirs named in a will are always direct blood relatives of the testator. However, for many, the most important individuals in their lives are not relatives. Furthermore, some people no longer have living relatives. 

If you have people in your life who are deeply important to you but are not family members, you may be wondering how to include them in your will. There are a few different ways to do this, and the best way for you may depend on your specific circumstances. Proper estate planning is even more important when a person wishes to leave assets to non-relatives. When someone dies without a will, their assets are distributed according to state law. This often means that family members could inherit the deceased’s property, even if the deceased wished for someone else to have it.

Leaving Property to People Who Are Not Related to You

When you create a will, you are free to choose who you name as beneficiaries. You can leave specific items or amounts of money to friends, coworkers, or anyone else who is important to you. Some people leave personal property, such as jewelry or art, to cherished individuals while others designate a sum of money to them.

Avoiding a Will Contest

It’s important to keep in mind that when you include non-family members in your will, there is a risk that your family or other individuals could contest the will after your death. A will contest is a legal challenge to the validity of a will. If someone challenges your will and is successful, they could receive a portion of your estate that you had intended for others. The decisions you made about who to leave assets to may not be followed.

To help avoid this, it’s important to be clear about your wishes and make sure that your will is as ironclad as possible. You will need to sign the will in front of two witnesses to meet Illinois state requirements. If you are older or suffer from cognitive decline or mental health problems, it may also be a good idea to take steps to prove your testamentary capacity. You may want to do this by obtaining medical documentation proving you are of sound mind.  

Additionally, some people choose to use a no-contest clause in their will. This is a provision that states that anyone who challenges the will forfeits any inheritance they would have received. While this can help discourage beneficiaries from contesting the will, it’s important to note that these clauses must meet certain requirements to be enforceable.

Call Us for Help

Many people have cherished loved ones that are not necessarily related to them. If you wish to include people outside of your family in your will, you must do so carefully as to avoid a will contest. Creating a comprehensive estate plan that specifically explains your wishes is crucial.

Our Naperville estate planning lawyers can help you draft a legally binding will that covers all of your needs. Call the Gierach Law Firm at 630-756-1160 for a confidential consultation to get started.


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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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