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Preventing Will Challenges in Illinois

Preventing Will Challenges in Illinois

Pen with last will and testment form

Properly drafting and executing a Will, explaining it to family members, incorporating a no-contest clause, proving competence, establishing trusts, and regularly reviewing the Will are some of the effective strategies for preventing Will challenges in Illinois. By implementing these strategies, the testator (property owner) will prevent disputes among his or her beneficiaries that are likely to result in Will challenges.

Properly Drafting and Executing a Will

Working with an estate planning attorney is the best way to achieve a properly drafted and executed Will in Illinois. On top of preparing a professionally drafted Will, the attorney will also help the testator make the Will official by organizing for the required independent witnesses and public signatures (Notary Public).

Incorporating a No-Contest Clause  

Adding a no-contest clause is undoubtedly an effective way to prevent a Will challenge. According to this clause, any beneficiary who unsuccessfully contests a Will ends up getting nothing. Leaving something substantial to the potentially disgruntled beneficiary is a great way to make this strategy work. The reason is that the disgruntled beneficiary is less likely to challenge the Will if that increases the risk of losing his or her inheritance.

Proving Competence

One of the ways an heir or beneficiary may challenge a Will in Illinois is by claiming the testator lacked the mental capacity to correctly draft and sign the Will. A testator can seal this loophole by having a doctor examine him or her for competence.  Video taping the execution of the Will is another way of preserving the evidence of competency.

Explaining the Will and Its Contents to Family Members

Explaining the Will and its contents to family members in advance is a wise idea because it helps avoid family feuds and potential challenges to the Will. Family members are less likely to challenge the Will if they understand what informed the testator’s decisions in the Will.

Establishing Trusts

Opening trusts for minors and beneficiaries who may require some help with the proper management of their inheritance is a good idea. Discretionary lifetime trusts, for instance, are a perfect choice for beneficiaries who are likely to misuse their inheritance.

Reviewing the Will Regularly

The testator should review the Will at least once a year to ensure that it still reflects his or her intentions. If there is an addition of a new family member, such as a grandchild, the Will should be updated to accommodate that change. Regular review of estate planning documents, such as a Will, helps the testator leave proper documents for his or her family members.

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