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Will Contests in Illinois

Can I challenge a will?

Illinois law permits any interested party to file a will contest. A will contest must be filed with the probate court 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.

What is a Will Contest?

A will contest is a lawsuit brought before the probate court in Illinois. The will contest process asks the court to void the will in its entirety and declare it invalid. The person who brings the will contest argues that the will is not valid. # Evidence will be presented by both sides and a trial will be held to determine whether the claims of the interested party who filed the petition cause the will to be invalid. If successful, a will contest 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. 

What is the deadline to file a Will Contest?

A petition to challenge the validity of a will must be filed within six months of the date that the will is admitted to probate. Therefore, it is imperative that you act quickly if you suspect that a will is invalid.

What are the grounds for contesting a will?

Lack of Testamentary Capacity

A will can be declared invalid if the decedent signed the will at a time when they were not of sound mind and did not have the required mental capacity to understand what they were signing. This type of claim often comes into play when a will was executed shortly before the decedent’s death or at a time when the decedent was suffering from dementia or some other serious illness.

Undue Influence

A claim for undue influence seeks to have a will declared invalid because the will was a product of the coercion from some outside individual who benefited from the will. The theory is that the will was a product of this improper influence, rather than the decedent’s own wishes. Unfortunately, many people prey on elderly and sick individuals and undue influence is on the rise.

Other Claims

Many other facts can be relevant when asking the court to declare a will invalid. These include claims that the will was the product of fraud or is a forgery. In addition, other facts such as collusion with other individuals, including advisors, to obtain the decedent’s signature on a will can be used to build a strong argument for invalidating a will.

Conclusion

If you believe that you were excluded from a will based on any of the factors set forth above and would like to discuss your rights and options in challenging a will or making a claim against a decedent’s estate, you need to consult with a qualified estate litigation attorney. The experienced Chicago estate litigation lawyers at Hays Firm LLC have helped many individuals through the process of challenging a will in order to ensure that their loved one’s true wishes were carried out. We 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.