Sen. Adriane Johnson

SPRINGFIELD – State Senator Adriane Johnson led a measure through the Senate to allow people with previous felony convictions to serve as an executor of someone else’s estate if expressly named.  

“We are taking a vital step to restore dignity and honor to families throughout Illinois to carry out the last wishes and affairs of loved ones,” said Johnson (D-Buffalo Grove). “Families should be free to choose who takes on this sacred duty. This measure will be one less domino in the effects of permanent punishments that devastate children, families, and communities of color across Illinois.”

House Bill 1268 would allow people with previous felony convictions to act as executor of someone else’s estate. Under the measure, a convicted felon could only serve as an executor if the deceased person expressly names that person in their will and acknowledges they know the person is a convicted felon.

“This was personal for me because my father trusted me enough to appoint me his executor before he passed away and I was unable to carry out his last wishes due to a now over 25 year conviction,” said Marlon Chamberlain, Fully Free Campaign Manager. “HB 1268 restores the right to choose during one of the most difficult moments in life.”

Under the measure, the executor could be disqualified if they have been convicted of financial exploitation of an elderly or disabled person, financial identity theft or a similar crime in another state or federal court may be disqualified as an executor of an estate in Illinois.

"We are living proof that we are where we are supposed to be. We are living proof that system-impacted people have the capacity to do this work,” said Gregory Chambers, Live Free Policy and the Fully Free Governing Board. “We are living proof that we deserve to live free – fully free.”

“The passage of the FREE Act is not only about the elimination of one permanent punishment,” said
Avalon Betts Gaston, from the Illinois Alliance for Reentry and Justice. “But it is also about giving agency to the people who know us best to have us perform the final act of love for them. This is a victory for us, our families, and our communities.”

House Bill 1268 awaits final approval in the House.