Can a will successfully be challenged?

Can a will successfully be challenged?

 According to the American Bar Association, roughly 55 percent of people in the country pass away before putting a will in place. Those who do take the right steps in their estate planning can rest assured that the majority of wills pass through the probate process without any issue.

However, residents in Illinois who disagree with the terms of a decedent’s will do have some legal recourse.

A Wheeling wills attorney has probably seen several situations in which family members have successfully contested a will. Before heading to court, challengers should consider the grounds on which to challenge and how to do so in accordance with the law.

Common reasons to challenge a will

A court could find a will invalid if the person who created it was under undue influence. This is one of the most common challenges and arises when the owner of the will and the person who benefits from the document have some type of fiduciary relationship. The beneficiary could have exerted dominance over the owner of the will and manipulated the document.

Another cause for discrediting the document occurs when the person who creates the will does not have the mental capacity to do so. By law, only people who are 18 or older may create a will, and they must be able to understand the following:

  • Who the beneficiaries are
  • What the property is and the value of that property
  • What it means to make a will and how the property will be distributed

The law requires that the will is in writing, the testator has signed it and two or more credible witnesses were present. As a Wheeling wills attorney would know, if any of these is untrue, the will could be viewed as forged or as victim to some other type of fraud.

How to contest a will

According to the Illinois Courts, anyone who has an interest in challenging a will has only six months to do so once the will has entered probate. In Illinois, only people who have “standing” with the will may challenge it. In other words, the person must have a direct financial interest in the will that would be adversely affected if the will continues as written. In many cases, spouses or children who have been excluded from an inheritance are the ones who contest the document.

According to Illinois Legal Aid, any challengers must file a petition in the probate court where the will was filed. The petitioner is permitted to request a jury trial during which the executor of the will is expected to defend the document.

While challenging a will can be difficult, it may also be necessary to protect the true interests of decedents and their loved ones. People who are concerned about the validity of a will should speak with a Wheeling wills attorney.

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