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What to know before contesting a will

On Behalf of | Jul 3, 2017 | Blog |

A person’s will typically does not come to light until his death. Sometimes, beneficiaries are not aware of the contents and are surprised by the division of the estate. When the assets are not divided as expected, it can make the heirs wonder if they should contest the will.

Contesting a will is not a step that should be taken lightly. However, if you believe someone took advantage of your loved one or coerced him to rewrite a will, you may want to pursue legal action. 

Who can contest a will?

To contest a will in Illinois, the party who files the petition must show a direct, financial and existing interest in the estate. This could be an heir who would inherit without the presence of a will or parties who were named in previous wills. Without a direct interest in the estate, the court will most likely dismiss the case. 

What legal grounds do you need to contest?

Another part of contesting a will is to have legal grounds. There must be a valid reason that the will is unenforceable. One cause could be undue influence, in which the testator (the person who wrote the will) was unable to exercise his own wishes in creating the document. The courts may consider a will invalid if the testator was not of sound mind and body when the will was executed. Fraud and forgery are other reasons for invalidation. 

If you believe a will unfairly excludes you, you only have six months to bring an action in court. You must file a petition in the same probate court where the will was filed. It is a good idea to have a lawyer help you put together your case to contest the will, as it can be a complex situation. It can also place a strain on the family, as the executor of the will must defend it. You will want to build a strong case to present to the court before proceeding.