Contesting a Will in Illinois

Contesting a Will in Illinois

Stamp and Will papers, will attorneyThe death of a loved one in Illinois often triggers a will contest. Suspicion of undue interference, greed, hurt feelings, and any other number of factors may lead estate beneficiaries or those who feel they should have been named, to question the wills of deceased loved ones. Under certain circumstances, the courts may see fit to declare a will invalid.

Who Can Contest a Will in Illinois?

In Illinois, those who would suffer adverse effects due to the execution of a will can file a petition to contest the validity of the estate. The parties who could be affected by a will’s execution include heirs that without a valid will stand to inherit the lion’s share of an estate, named and unnamed beneficiaries, and those named in previous wills who would benefit by invalidating the most current will.

The Grounds for Contesting a Will

Simply not liking a decedent’s final wishes or getting left out of a loved one’s estate does not warrant a will contest. Rather, there are several causes of action for which people may challenge the validity of a will. The grounds for invalidating wills in Illinois include undue influence, lack of testamentary capacity, and fraud or forgery.

Undue influence occurs when something or someone prevents people from exercising their own rights and wishes when crafting their wills. A lack of testamentary capacity, or situations when the testators are not of sound body and mind when executing their wills, may provide cause for declaring a will invalid. In cases when the testators were not there at the time and place their wills were executed, wills are signed in handwriting other than the testators’, or untoward actions on the part of will execution witnesses may constitute fraud or forgery.

The Process of Contesting a Will

The process of contesting a will in Illinois generally follows the state’s civil litigation procedures. Interested parties concerned over the validity of a will may challenge estates within six months of the dates on which the wills are filed with the probate court. As the decedent’s personal representative, those named as will executors must defend estates against such challenges. If the will is declared invalid through a court hearing, the estate reverts to the last valid version or is disbursed in accordance with the state’s intestacy laws.

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