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What are the most common reasons for contesting a will?

On Behalf of | Oct 17, 2022 | Probate Litigation |

All Illinois residents should have a will as part of their estate planning efforts. Most people understand that there are certain situations that allow a will to be contested. These are the most common reasons for it.

Undue influence

A will can be contested when undue influence is a factor. This means that another person convinced the will’s creator, also known as the testator, to make changes to the document that they otherwise would not have made. Usually, the person guilty of undue influence has ulterior motives and wants the person to change their will at the expense of other beneficiaries.

Lack of testamentary capacity

When a person creates their will, they must have full mental capacity to do so. If the person is suffering from some type of medical condition that impacts their ability to think clearly such as dementia, Alzheimer’s disease or a brain injury, the will may be challenged due to lack of testamentary capacity. The testator must understand why they are creating their will, what it means and all other aspects of it.

However, just because a person has one of these conditions, it doesn’t mean they lack the capacity to make their will. Even if they have one lucid moment during the creation of the document, it makes it valid.


If a beneficiary believes that the will is fraudulent, they can contest it. However, the individual contesting the will bears the burden of proving that fraud exists and must present evidence. For example, if another person created the will and forged the person’s name on it, the beneficiary contesting on the grounds of fraud would have to show the person’s true signature. They might even go a few steps further and hire a handwriting expert to testify that the signature was, indeed, forged.


Another reason why a will might be contested is revocation. An old will can be revoked after the new document is signed or after it’s destroyed. Revocation can also occur through written proof by the testator that they intended to replace the will with a new version.

These are some of the most common reasons why wills might be contested.