A contested will is the last thing most people want when they pass away. With proper estate planning, a contested will can usually be avoided by taking certain precautions. Learn about will contests in this article, then speak to our Illinois estate planning attorneys for help with writing your will.
A will contest can be filed to challenge the validity of a will entering probate. It also can mean challenging the denial of the will’s admission. The party who wants to contest the will has to file the petition to contest the document within six months after the will’s admission or denial.
Someone with standing can assert several grounds to challenge a will. They include the following:
Undue influence means that the testator was prevented from exercising their own will in dispositioning the estate. However, you must prove that undue influence was directly linked to how the will was executed.
Illinois law assumes that the testator was of sound mind when the will was created. The will can only be invalidated on these grounds if the contestant can show the testator lacked mental capacity when the will was written and executed.
Fraud means using a device or trick to induce the person to sign the will with the idea that it means something else. For example, the will could be altered after the testator signed it. Forgery means misrepresenting that the testator signed the document when it did not happen.
To avoid a contested will, be sure you use an experienced estate planning attorney to draft it and that it is appropriately executed. It also helps to speak to your heirs about what the will contains and why. Talking about it while you are alive allows the heirs to discuss the matter with you and understand your decisions. It can help to express your love for your heirs so they never feel like the decisions made in the will means you do not love them.
Another way to avoid a will contest is to use a revocable living trust. This trust allows you to put all your assets in a trust while you live. You can use and spend your money and assets, but the trust owns them. The assets will be distributed to the beneficiaries according to the trust’s terms when you pass on. A trust does not go through probate and cannot usually be contested. Talk to your estate planning attorney to determine if a revocable living trust is a good option.
When you do estate planning, the idea is to provide a comprehensive plan to distribute your assets and property to your heirs according to your wishes. But if the will is contested, your property may be distributed differently than you wanted. To avoid this problem, contact our Illinois estate planning attorneys at Orlowsky & Wilson, Ltd. at (847) 325-5559 for help with your will and estate planning.