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What steps can I take to contest a will?

A valid estate plan expresses the wishes of the deceased in terms of property and assets. However, families in Illinois sometimes find fault with the contents of a will, and as a result they may choose to contest it. This is a time-consuming and expensive process, so before proceeding it's best to understand all that's involved.

According to The Balance, only certain people are able to contest a will. For instance, if you were named as a beneficiary or an executor in a prior will and struck from the most recent iteration, you have legal standing. Eligible heirs not included within a will are also able to initiate a lawsuit. Eligible heirs are spouses, children, and then parents, siblings, and other relatives.

You must also have grounds for contesting a will. This usually involves four situations. A will can be legally invalid, the person who created the will may have mentally incapacitated, or under undue pressure, and lastly the will could be fraudulent. Self-written wills can be called into question regarding their legality, as pertinent state laws may have been neglected. If the deceased was isolated from friends and family by the primary beneficiary, they can claim undue influence. An attorney's assistance establishing grounds is a must, as it can be hard to prove these conditions in court.

Lastly, you must file your lawsuit within the time specified by the laws in your state. Deadlines can vary quite a bit, with some being as short as a few weeks. In Illinois, those contesting a will have six months to file so that the administration of the estate can be expedited in a timely manner. Otherwise, the courts fear that estate could be tied up indefinitely in case someone should choose to file a will contest.

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Zapolis & Associates, P.C.
9991 191st Street
Mokena, IL 60448

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