Do I Need A Lawyer To Contest A Will In Illinois?

Do I Need A Lawyer To Contest A Will In Illinois?

Provided By: Alan G. Orlowsky

If you or your family is considering contesting a will in Illinois probate court, you may have many questions about how the procedure works. The Illinois Probate Act of 1975 lays out specific mechanisms that will govern the legal process for how to proceed with such a move.

Under the Act, anyone with a financial interest in an estate may challenge a will in probate court even if they are not named in the will. This may include parties such as parents, siblings, heirs, and anyone else who may be affected by the execution of the last will and testament.

To successfully contest a will in Illinois, you will need to hire an experienced and qualified attorney. There are a multitude of legal issues and grounds to challenge a will and the right attorney should be familiar with all these specifics, including possible defenses to a contested will.

Right to trial by jury in Illinois probate court

In Illinois, the executor of the estate has a legal duty to defend a contested estate in probate court. Furthermore, each side has the right to request a trial by jury to settle a contested estate and this will require legal counsel to be properly executed.

When defending a contested estate, the executor’s attorney may focus on a number of nuances the law requires the contesting party to follow. Even if one follows all the proper protocols to fight the will in probate court, opposing counsel may still make a compelling argument to a judge or jury on why the court should side with the executor.

Requirements to contest an estate

Having an experienced Illinois estate lawyer on one’s side to contest a will can help satisfy the law’s requirements to meet all the necessary benchmarks to challenge a will. In Illinois, parties contesting a will must demonstrate:

  • The contesting party has standing – This means the petitioner has a financial interest in the estate, whether they were named or not and would be adversely affected should the will be executed as written.
  • There are legal grounds to challenge the will – The Illinois Probate Act allows petitioners to challenge the validity of a will on the grounds the deceased was not of sound mental health, the will is a forgery or fake, or an outside party exerted unlawful influence on the creation of the will.
  • The petition to contest the will was properly filed – Parties contesting a will have six months after the will was filed in probate court to challenge the will. Furthermore, the executor and his/her attorney must be provided notice of the petition and this may vary by county in Illinois.

Northbrook contested estate attorneys

If you are considering contesting an estate in Northbrook, Evanston, Skokie, Glenview, Glencoe, or Highland Park, contact our experienced Northbrook attorneys at Orlowsky & Wilson for a consultation about your case. Our law firm regularly represents clients wishing to contest the validity of wills and estates throughout the Chicagoland area.


Updated as of July 2019
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