How to Contest a Will in Illinois

Losing a loved one is a difficult, emotional and painful event. Processing this type of loss can become even more complicated for individuals who have reason to believe the will of a deceased relative or friend is not valid. When it comes to concerns about the validity of a decedent’s will, those who find themselves in this predicament have legal recourse. You have the option of officially contesting the will in probate court. It is a complicated legal process, so you should only consider moving forward if you have the assistance of an experienced Highland Park contested estates attorney who can assist and advise you.

The Probate Process

When a person passes away, his/her estate will usually need to go through a legal process known as probate. It is during this process when wills can be authenticated, assets identified and located, claims filed against the estate and taxes paid. However, this process can only begin once the executor of the estate files an original copy of the will in question with the probate court. At this point, petitioners with standing can officially contest the will.

Filing a Petition

Under Illinois law, a person only has six months from the date a will is filed in probate court to file a petition contesting that will. When drafting a will contest petition, petitioners must provide certain information, including:

-The deceased’s name;

-The date and place of the decedent’s death;

-The court case number for the probate proceeding; and

-The grounds for the will contest;

Once completed, a petition must be filed in the same probate court where the will was originally filed. The petitioner then must ensure a copy of the document is personally given to those listed on the original petition for probate, the will’s executor and the executor’s lawyer. Then, both the person contesting the will and the executor have the right to demand a trial by jury, where the petitioner will need to provide proof of the will’s invalidity. In the event the petitioner passes away before the termination of the proceedings, his/her heirs or representative are entitled to continue the proceedings.

Executor Duties

Even if an executor does not demand a trial by jury, he/she is still required to defend the estate from being contested. If an estate’s representative fails to fulfill this duty, the court can appoint a special administrator to defend the will, or file an appeal regarding an earlier ruling. When fulfilling this responsibility, executors have the right to present evidence disputing the proof provided by the contestant.

Call Us Today for Legal Assistance

If you believe your loved one’s will is invalid, or another heir has claimed a decedent’s will does not represent his or her wishes, you need the advice of an experienced Highland Park contested estates lawyer who can advise you. Please call Orlowsky & Wilson, Ltd. Attorneys at Law at 847-325-5559 today to learn more about how our dedicated legal team can help.

Updated as of July 2019
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