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When Can a Will Be Contested in Illinois?

Posted on in Estate Planning

Chicago Probate Lawyer

A person’s last will and testament details their decisions about how their final affairs should be handled following their death. Some of the most important provisions of a will involve the distribution of a person’s property to their heirs. In some cases, one or more a person’s loved ones may be unhappy with the decisions made in a will, especially if they do not receive certain property that they expected to inherit. In these situations, a person’s heirs, the executor of their estate, and any other interested parties will want to understand when a will may be contested.

Grounds to Contest a Will in Illinois

A person who has died is known as a decedent. After a decedent’s death, the person they named as the executor of their estate will file their will in probate court. The executor will take a complete inventory of the estate, notify the person’s heirs, and ensure that the person’s assets are distributed according to their wishes. During the probate process, an interested party (including a person named as a beneficiary in a will or another loved one who expects to inherit property) may contest the will based on claims that it is invalid.

Generally, a will may only be contested on the basis that it went against the deceased person’s wishes. Illinois law recognizes the following grounds for invalidity of a will:

  • Undue influence - A person may claim that the decedent was influenced to create a will or change the terms of their will in a way that went against their actual wishes. This type of influence may include threats, coercion, or other methods to convince a person to make changes to their will. A person who had a fiduciary relationship with the decedent, such as a caregiver or a family member who helped manage the decedent’s finances, may have exerted influence and caused the decedent to make decisions that were not of their own free will.

  • Lack of testamentary capacity - When creating a will, a person must have the ability to understand the nature and extent of the property they own and the decisions they are making about how this property should be distributed to their heirs. A will may be invalid if the decedent was not of sound mind when it was created, such as when a person had been diagnosed with dementia. 

  • Fraud/forgery - An interested party may claim that a will is invalid because the decedent was tricked into signing or updating the will while under the belief that they were signing another type of agreement. Fraud or forgery may also involve another person signing the decedent’s name on a will or making changes to a will after it was signed.

  • Revocation - A will may be found invalid if a person can show that the decedent created another will or made updates to their will after the original will was created. An interested party may also be able to provide evidence that the decedent intended to revoke a will, such as a signed statement declaring the revocation of the will.

  • Ignorance of a will’s contents - An interested party may claim that the decedent did not have knowledge of the terms of a will when the will was created. However, a person’s signature on a will is generally considered to be evidence that the decedent understood what they were signing, unless there is evidence to the contrary.

Contact Our Evergreen Park Contested Estates Lawyer

If you believe that your loved one’s will is invalid, or if you are the executor of an estate who needs to respond to a challenge to a will, The Law Offices of Marques A. Eason, LLC can help you resolve these matters successfully. We will advise you of your options and provide you with representation during probate litigation. To get legal help with matters involving contested wills and estates, contact our Beverly probate attorney at 312-973-3755 to set up a confidential consultation.

Sources:

https://www.ilga.gov/legislation/ilcs/ilcs4.asp?DocName=075500050HArt.+VIII&ActID=2104&ChapterID=60&SeqStart=10100000&SeqEnd=10400000

 

https://www.illinoiscourts.gov/Resources/6c936701-b541-4dfe-bf73-9d073d6a7847/200.00.pdf

Illinois State Bar Association Gate City Bar Association Cook County Bar Association Will County Bar Association
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