Defending a Will Contest

While many will contests are based on a valid belief by an heir that a testator was taken advantage of in his or her old age or that a will was forged and so does not represent the testator’s wishes, others are the result of complaints by disgruntled family members who believe that they did not receive a fair share of the decedent’s assets. In these cases, it is important for an executor to compile all necessary evidence and adhere to procedural requirements, so that a testator’s last wishes are respected and enforced. If you are an Illinois resident and were recently served with a notice informing you of a contested estate, it is vital to contact an experienced contested estates attorney who can help you formulate a solid defense.

Verified Complaint

Executors are individuals chosen by decedents to manage their property after their death. This includes distributing the decedent’s assets, as well as paying off debts, such as funeral or burial costs. However, it is also an executor’s responsibility to defend a will against any challenges by interested parties.

A will contest usually starts after an executor has attempted to admit a will to probate and is served with a verified complaint contesting the validity of the will. To be valid, the contest must have been filed within six months of the will’s admission into probate.

After receiving notice of a will contest and retaining an attorney, the executor to the contested will should file an answer to the verified complaint. At this point, the executor can begin contacting potential witnesses who can testify as to the decedent’s state of mind and mental condition at the time the will was executed, which could include:

  • The witnesses to the will’s execution;
  • Treating physicians;
  • Family;
  • Friends; and
  • The attorney who drafted the will.

Once these witnesses have been located, the executor can begin to create an informal accounting by compiling and organizing all of the documents related to the assets held in the estate. It is also important to obtain the decedent’s medical records. Both witness testimony and documentary evidence can help establish that a will was not the result of fraud or coercion, that the decedent had the mental capacity to execute his or her will, and that the decedent acted freely when the will was drafted and was not the victim of undue influence. Defending a will can be a complex and time-consuming matter. Fortunately, in Illinois, the cost of defense does not have to be paid by the executor, but is paid out of the estate’s assets.

Contact an Experienced Contested Estates Attorney Today

Being the executor of a will can be a stressful and emotional process and finding out that a will is being contested can make the situation even more difficult, so if you live in or near Evanston, Glencoe, Glenview, Highland Park, Northbrook, or Skokie, are an executor of an estate, and have been served with a verified complaint, please contact the dedicated legal team at Orlowsky & Wilson, Ltd. Attorneys at Law by calling 847-325-5559 today.

Updated as of July 2019
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