Losing a loved one is one of the most physically and emotionally draining experiences a person can go through. This is especially true in situations where a grieving family member has concerns about the legitimacy of the deceased’s will. Deciding whether or not to contest a will can be a difficult decision, as these procedures tend to be lengthy and emotionally taxing. However, despite these difficulties, it is often in an heir or beneficiary’s best interests to file a formal will contest and in some cases, it is also the only way to ensure a decedent’s last wishes are respected.
All will contest proceedings are unique, making it particularly important for those who are thinking about contesting a loved one’s will, to consult with an experienced contested estates attorney before making a final decision.
What is Probate?
The estate a person leaves behind after he/she passes away is made up of everything that individual owned at the time of his/her death, all of which must be transferred, whether to a legal heir or to an intended beneficiary. However, this can only happen after an estate goes through a process known as probate, which provides a way for all of a person’s estate assets to be identified, secured and appraised. All of a decedent’s creditors will also be notified at this time and any valid claims will be paid by the executor or administrator of the will. Any challenges regarding the validity of the will must also be raised at this time.
Who Has Standing to Contest a Will?
Only certain individuals who have the legal right, or standing, to bring an action about a person’s estate are permitted to contest a will in Illinois. To have standing, a person must have a direct pecuniary interest, which would be negatively affected by the probate process. This includes beneficiaries who are listed in the will itself, as well as beneficiaries listed in a previous will and an estate’s legal heirs.
How Long do I Have to Contest a Will?
Even when a person has standing to contest a will, he/she can only do so if the claim is filed in a timely manner. In Illinois, this means a will contest must be raised within six months after a probate court enters the order admitting the will.
Under What Legal Grounds Can I Contest a Will?
Once the hurdles of standing and filing deadlines have been overcome, a person who wishes to contest a loved one’s will must still be able to provide proof the will is invalid due to:
– Lack of testametary capacity;
– Undue influence;
– Improper execution; or
Only those who are able to meet all of these requirements can initiate a will contest in Illinois, which can be a tall order, especially for those who do not have legal representation.
Contact an Illinois Contested Estates Attorney
If you have questions about how difficult it is to contest a will in Illinois, please contact the experienced contested estates attorneys at Orlowsky & Wilson, Ltd. Attorneys at Law by calling 847-325-5559 to schedule an appointment.