What You Should Know About Contesting a Will in Illinois

Contesting a will in Illinois can be a difficult process, especially for those who don’t have legal representation, so if you believe that your loved one’s will doesn’t represent his or her true wishes or you have other legal questions or concerns about a deceased relative’s estate, it is important to speak with an experienced contested estates attorney who can advise you.

Important Time Limits

Most people don’t know that a decedent’s loved ones only have a certain amount of time in which they can contest a will. In Illinois, those who wish to contest a deceased relative’s will only have six months from the date that the will was filed with the court in order to do so. For this reason, it is extremely important for a decedent’s family members to act quickly once they become aware of discrepancies in that person’s estate. In fact, some unscrupulous family members may even purposely attempt to delay proceedings until this deadline has passed. Fortunately, this time limit does not apply when an executor or beneficiary purposely interferes with another person’s ability to contest a will. In these cases, the wronged party could have standing to file a civil lawsuit for intentionally interfering with an expectancy of inheritance. Successful plaintiffs could even be eligible to recover compensatory damages, including the value of the estate in addition to punitive damages.

When Can a Will be Contested in Illinois?

Wills cannot be contested just because a person doesn’t agree with how an estate was divided, or because he or she was verbally told something that contradicts the terms of the will. Instead, those who file claims to contest a will must be able to prove that one of the following situations exist:

  • The testator was the victim of undue influence, which means that he or she was forcibly prevented from exercising his or her own free will when dividing the estate;
  • The testator lacked testamentary capacity, which means that he or she did not have the mental ability to identify and dispose of his or her assets or to dispose of the property according to a plan formed in his or her own mind;
  • A will was the result of fraud or forgery, which often includes allegations of making alterations or substitutions to an executed will; or
  • A will was not executed or signed in accordance with state law.

Claimants who are able to provide evidence demonstrating that a will does not represent a decedent’s actual wishes could have the will thrown out, in which case, a previous valid will would take its place. In the event that no previous will exists, an estate will be distributed based on the laws of intestacy.

Contact Our Office Today

To speak with a dedicated contested estates attorney about contesting a loved one’s will, please call Orlowsky & Wilson, Ltd. Attorneys at Law at 847-325-5559 today. You can also reach a member of our legal team by completing and submitting one of our brief online contact forms.

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