What are the Chances of Successfully Challenging a Will in Illinois?

When a will is drafted, and there are a lot of possible beneficiaries or people who stand to inherit something from the will, there is often a disappointment. That’s because sometimes, there just aren’t enough assets in the estate for every beneficiary to get everything that he or she wants.

Other times, personal conflicts result in the person making the will, purposely omitting someone from the will, or writing a will where someone gets less than what he or she thinks is deserved.

Contesting A Will in Illinois

When that happens, the door is open to contesting a will. A will contest is when someone challenges the validity of the will. The person contesting the will can say that the person making the will was influenced, or that the person making the will, or changing its terms, did not have the required mental capacity to understand what he or she was doing.

But what are the chances of success in will challenges? How often will a court agree with the person contesting a will in Illinois, and agree to overturn or amend a written will?

Arlington Heights Probate Attorneys Can Help

If the person writing the will did so with the help of an Illinois or Arlington Heights probate attorney, the chances of a successful challenge are slim to none.

An attorney understands the formalities of the will, and can “see ahead” to potential challenges, and thus, take measures to avoid those problems at the time the will is drawn up or amended. This is one reason to use an attorney for your will. A legal professional can write the documents to essentially stop will contests and infighting over the will.

People are Assumed Competent

The law starts with the assumption that people who make a will or alter or amend it, are legally competent to do so. That means that a challenger when contesting a will must prove that the person who made the will, did not have the legal capacity to do so, or that there was coercion or undue influence. This puts the challenger in a tough spot, right from the start of the challenge.

The chances of successfully challenging a will go up if there is something in the deceased’s medical records that would indicate to a court that the person was not competent to make the will. For example, if a doctor diagnosed someone with advanced-stage Alzheimer’s disease, and two months after that the will was amended, the chances of a successful challenge would go up.

Fiduciary Relationships and Will Contests

The chances of a successful challenge also increase dramatically if there was what is known as a fiduciary relationship between the deceased, who made the will, and the person who received significant assets from the will. This would indicate some kind of coercion, or pressure because a fiduciary relationship is one based on trust, guidance, advice, and reliance.

For example, if someone’s real estate agent received 3 houses in someone’s will, and the family received none, and it was later revealed that the agent was the one who helped the deceased amend his or her will, the chances of a successful challenge would increase.

Because many elderly people rely on advisors, bankers, agents, and other professionals, this is always something to look into when challenging a will. An Arlington Heights probate attorney can help you see if these kinds of fiduciary relationships may have affected someone’s will.

Questions about will contests? We can help. Call the Arlington Heights Probate Attorneys at Orlowsky & Wilson, Ltd at 847-325-5559 to learn more.

Updated as of July 2019
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