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Need Help With a Will?

Getting help with creating and managing a will is an important step to take in your life. If you want your property to go to specific people after you die, or to name who will be responsible for making sure your wishes are carried out, or to avoid legal issues, a wills lawyer can help.

Use FindLaw to find a wills lawyer near you to prepare a will tailored to your circumstances. You can also find a wills lawyer to help you with living wills -- also known as an advance directive or medical power of attorney -- last will and testaments, and joint or reciprocal wills.

What Does a Will Do?

A will – often called a last will and testament – provides for how your property and final affairs will be dealt with after you die. The last will and testament is the most common legal document used in estate planning, to provide for what you want to do with your assets after you pass away. It can be difficult to address estate planning. Talking to your family about end-of-life decisions is a sensitive matter. An estate planning lawyer can provide options and legal advice about wills, trusts, and how to handle your estate.

How Much Does an Attorney Charge for a Will in Illinois?

In general, an attorney can provide a will based on a flat fee or hourly rate. The cost to prepare a will depends on several factors, including the type of estate, number of assets, and specific wishes of the client. For example, a person with modest assets and no children may want all their assets to go to one person, and so they may use a simple will. In contrast, a person with a lot of assets and specific distribution plans may have a more complicated will or they may require a trust.

Do I Need an Attorney to Make a Will in Illinois?

In general, you can make a simple will on your own without an attorney. However, there are several benefits to consulting with an experienced wills lawyer. A wills lawyer can provide options for how to handle property, real estate, and assets after death. A wills attorney can also develop an estate plan to provide for your family and loved ones without the unnecessary delays and costs of going through intestacy.

The basic requirements for a will generally include the mental capacity to understand the nature of a will, testimonial intent to have the will take effect, the will is in writing, and signed by the testator before witnesses. Different states may have other specific requirements to establish a will. One of the benefits of using an experienced lawyer is that the probate attorney understands the legal requirements to prepare a will and make sure that it will be enforced.

If there is no will or the will is not enforceable, the decedent's estate may go through probate and property will be distributed according to the state's intestate distribution laws. If someone dies intestate, their property will be distributed to their relatives. If there are no relatives, the property will go to the state.

How Much Does a Lawyer Cost in Illinois?

In Illinois, a general estimate of the per-hour cost for a lawyer can range from about $130 to $400 per hour, depending on location, expertise and the complexity of the case in question.

In some cases, attorneys may opt to offer clients a flat-rate fee instead of a per-hour fee. This typically arises in criminal defense law as well as certain divorce court proceedings. A fee for a misdemeanor defense is usually far less than the flat fee for a felony defense. Representation on issues related to juvenile offenses and traffic offenses may cost you less than the representation on situations involving corporate law or bankruptcies.

Finally, certain lawyers, such as personal injury lawyers, typically offer clients representation based on contingency. If you win a settlement from such a case, such as slipping and falling at a business establishment and incurring a serious injury, your personal injury lawyer will retain a percentage of your total settlement, rather than charging you any per-hour or flat-rate fees.

If you cannot afford representation in a legal matter, legal aid may be an option to consider.

What Types of Cases Can an Illinois Lawyer Help With?

While an Illinois lawyer can take on cases of any sort, the most common criminal cases in Illinois involve simple assault or aggravated assault, sexual assault, violations of the Controlled Substances Act, burglary (business and residential), driving while under the influence (DUI) and severe violent crime such as homicide and armed robbery.

Illinois lawyers are also typically called upon to represent parties in marital disputes leading to divorce or separation, the custody battles common to such cases, and other civil proceedings.

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