How Long After an Estate is Settled Can it Be Contested?

Although you may have made a will and have a comprehensive estate plan, others can always challenge your estate. But the ability to challenge someone’s estate after it is settled does not last forever. There are deadlines to how long someone has to file a claim if they are seeking to invalidate a document in your estate plan or make a claim on estate assets. Information regarding claims against estates in Illinois can be found in the Illinois estate claim statutes (755/ILCS 5-18.1).

Probate Challenges and Deadlines

Often, your estate, or parts of it, will go through the probate process. This is a public court proceeding, where the matters in your estate documents, such as your will, will be effectuated and put into place. This doesn’t happen in every case, but if your estate is one that qualifies for the probate process, then others can challenge your estate.

There are a lot of ways to challenge an estate and a lot of things that can be challenged. Some of the most common, and the deadlines when the challenges must be made, include:

Demanding a formal proof of will – This is a demand to show that the filed will in court, is valid. It may be made by those who contest the validity of the will. Whoever wants such proof needs to file their request in the probate court, within 42 days after the will is filed with the probate court, or admitted into probate.

Contesting a will – This is the process where someone formally challenges something in a will. Examples are where someone may feel that the will was coerced, or that the maker of the will did not have the capacity to make the will. The deadline to file such a challenge is 6 months after the will is admitted into probate. This six-month deadline can be extended, if there are allegations that an executor or beneficiary of the will intentionally interfered, altered the will, or influenced the deceased in making the will.

Creditors contesting a will (or making a claim on the property) – A creditor of the estate that wants to be paid on a debt owed by the deceased from the estate, has two years to file the claim. However, if creditors are specifically notified of the opening of the estate or the probate action, then the creditors will only have 3 months after notice to file their claims.

If a creditor gets notice but is not personally notified—for example, the creditor learns of the probate through public notice in a newspaper or online, then the creditor will have 6 months to make a claim on the proceeds of the estate.

Spouse’s statutory share – If a spouse has the right to refuse what was left to him or her, and instead elect the inheritance provided under Illinois law, the spouse must make this election within 7 months.

Simple closing of the estate – Generally, the court will want the estate to close or settle within 14 months, although there are opportunities for the estate’s representative to keep it open longer if needed.

Contact your Illinois estate planning lawyers at Orlowsky & Wilson, Ltd at (847) 325-5559. The Lincolnshire contested estate planning lawyers at Orlowsky & Wilson, Ltd can help you with the probate process and minimize the chance of your estate being contested.

Updated as of July 2019
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