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What is a Will Contest?

A Will Contest in Illinois

A “Will Contest” is a court proceeding in which the validity of a will is challenged. The person who brings the will contest argues that the will is not valid. This article will address the different reasons for which you can challenge a will. We will also discuss who may bring a will contest.

Types of Will Contests

A will contest is a lawsuit brought before the probate court in Illinois. If successful, a will contest lawsuit will invalidate the will that was attacked. Essentially, if successful, the Court will direct all parties involved to act as if the invalid will never existed. One of the grounds of a will contest looks at whether the person who signed the will had the required mental capacity to sign the will. Generally, “capacity” means a person understood that the contents of the will and the property that they intended to transfer through the will. If the person lacked capacity when they signed the will, then the will is not valid.

Another ground of a will contest is “undue influence.” Undue influence means that the person who signed the will was influenced by another person to sign the will. The influence must be so strong that the person who signed the will was no longer acting under his or her own free will. Unfortunately, many people prey on elderly and sick individuals and undue influence is on the rise.

There are other grounds under which you may be able to challenge a will. The facts and circumstances of each case are important and must be considered. Every family has their own history and past which may lead a surviving heir to question whether a will is valid. If you have any questions about a validity of a will, we encourage you to contact us to discuss the specific facts of your situation.

Who May Challenge a Will?

Illinois law permits any interested party to file a will contest. A will contest must be filed after a person’s death. The law does not allow a family member to challenge the will of a person who is still alive. A person is an “interested person” if he or she has an interest or right affected by the new will. For example, a child that has been disinherited under a will is an interested person. On the other hand, a person who would receive the same amount of money from an estate whether or not the will is valid cannot challenge a will because the new will did not affect their financial interests.

The attorneys at the Hays Firm offer a free one-hour consultation to clients who are considering challenging a will. Please keep in mind that there are time limits for challenging a will. Therefore, you should contact our firm as soon as possible if you are contemplating a will contest. We will be able to help you determine if you are an “interested person” and whether you have sufficient grounds to challenge a will.