Can A Beneficiary Designation Be Contested?

If you are unhappy with a beneficiary designation in an Illinois will, you can contest it, but you must have standing, which means you have something to gain when the case is decided. Learn how to contest a beneficiary designation below, then talk to our Illinois estate planning attorneys for assistance.

How To Contest A Beneficiary Designation

You can challenge the beneficiary of a will in several ways, usually done by spouses, ex-spouses, excluded family members, and the deceased’s business partners. This is accomplished by challenging the validity of the will. Some ways you and your Illinois estate planning attorney may contest a will are:

The Document Was Forged

All wills must follow Illinois law to be deemed valid. Even if the will is not forged, it still might not have been witnessed or executed correctly. There could be a case where the decedent’s signature does not look like theirs. Or, perhaps terms were added or deleted after the document was signed.

Lack Of Capacity

The person who wrote the will must have been aware of what they signed. Some individuals who are older, mentally ill, or mentally declining may not have the necessary capacity to designate their beneficiary or change or execute the document legally. For instance, if the decedent was extremely ill when the will was altered and excluded a family member, the beneficiary change might be contested.

There Was Undue Influence Or Coercion

This scenario could be related to mental capacity; people may unduly influence someone older and mentally unable to make rational decisions. Many complex situations can be involved in determining coercion and undue influence, and your estate planning attorney in Chicago can assist you. However, even a healthy person can be unduly influenced to alter their will.

There Was A Mistake

This is more difficult, but it is possible to argue that someone accidentally left a beneficiary out of a will. For example, consider a man who got divorced from his wife. He may not have gotten around to removing her as a beneficiary. So, the new spouse could challenge their rights as a beneficiary. This could work if she claims that her spouse did not change the beneficiary on the will, which was an oversight.

What About Beneficiary Designations Outside The Will?

You should remember that a beneficiary designation outside of a well, such as on an IRA or bank account, will take priority over provisions that could counter those designations. It is common for people to change wills, but they may need to remember to change beneficiary designations. Or, they could be mentally able to change the beneficiary when they revised the will but were not when they changed the beneficiary outside the will.

Contact Our Illinois Estate Planning Attorneys

It is not easy to contest a will or beneficiary, but it is possible. To learn if you are likely to be able to contest a beneficiary successfully, you should talk to an attorney. Please contact our Illinois estate planning attorneys at Orlowsky & Wilson, Ltd., today at (847) 325-5559 for legal assistance.

Updated as of July 2019
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