What Are the Statutes of Limitations for Wills in Illinois?

If you are a beneficiary or potentially have an interest in the estate of a deceased individual, there are important deadlines you should be aware of. Illinois, like most states, sets forth time deadlines, known as statutes of limitations, for various aspects of an estate to ensure timeliness and expediency of the process once the will enters probate court.

In Illinois, virtually all wills worth over a certain amount of money must go through probate court to certify the estate, give interested parties a chance to voice their concerns, and eventually disperse assets. Interested parties may be banned from recovering portions of estates they would otherwise rightfully be entitled to should they fail to act within these time limits.

How long do I have to contest a will in Illinois?

In 2010, the Illinois Supreme Court handed down a ruling affirming Section 8-1 of the Probate Act of 1975, 755 ILCS 5/8-1 which holds interested parties have a six-month time limit to contest an estate once it enters probate. Interested parties include individuals or entities that may be affected financially by the ultimate execution of a will by the interference of another.

However, the six-month time limit to contest an estate does not apply in situations where executors or beneficiaries intentionally interfered with an interested party’s ability to contest the will. While traditional contested estates are actions against an estate and not a person, known as quasi in rem, petitions for intentional interference of a will are civil actions naming a specific person or defendant.

What this means is that while a will may be executed and affirmed in a probate court, plaintiffs may still file a civil lawsuit alleging intentional interference with an expectancy of inheritance. Claimants may be able to recover compensatory damages, such as the value of an estate, as well as punitive damages to punish the willful and wanton conduct of the defendant to deter others from engaging in similar behavior.

Other time limits for Illinois wills

Besides contesting an estate, there are other important time deadlines executors, beneficiaries, and interested parties need to be aware of to ensure their legal rights are preserved. These time deadlines for estates include:

  • Persons named as executors to an estate have 30 days to file the will with the appropriate probate court or inform that court they have no intention to act as the executor.
  • When an individual dies intestate (no valid will exists), interested parties wishing to act as the executor of the estate have 30 days to inform courts and other heirs of their intention to do so;
  • Executors of an estate have 60 days to catalog and account for all assets of an estate once they are appointed to the position

Contact our Highland Park contested estate lawyers

For a consultation about defending a will, contact Orlowsky & Wilson, Ltd. for a legal consultation with one of our experienced Glencoe contested estate lawyers. Our attorneys have years of experience helping clients through legal challenges to estates and will work hard to ensure these matters are handled properly. Our office serves clients throughout Northbrook, Evanston, Skokie, Glenview, Glencoe, and Highland Park.


Updated as of July 2019
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