What You Should Know About Contesting an Estate in Illinois

Even when a testator takes reasonable steps to ensure his/her will is valid under state law, that person’s estate could still be contested in probate court. Contesting an estate is a complicated matter, which involves sensitive and complex legal issues. Making even a minor mistake can have costly consequences. If you find yourself grappling with a matter related to contesting an estate, you may need the assistance of a knowledgeable and skilled contested estates attorney who can advise you.

What Qualifies as an Estate?

When speaking of a person’s estate, testators and their attorneys are referring to all assets a person owns or controls, including but not limited to:

    This applies to a wide range of accounts and investments, including:

    ● Real property, including real estate and the structures attached to it, such as buildings and houses;
    ● Personal possessions, such as vehicles, stocks and bonds, cash, jewelry, collectibles, furniture, and bank account funds;
    ● Businesses and company inventory, including accounts receivable and equipment; and
    ● Life insurance policies, pension benefits and retirement accounts.

A person’s estate does not only include valuable assets – it also covers debts and liabilities the individual may owe to third parties.

Which Parts of a Will Can be Contested?

Almost any part of a will can be contested if a petitioner can prove one of the statutory grounds for contesting a will. For instance, if there is a legal basis for doing so, a person contesting a will could ask a court to revoke provisions related to the following matters:

● The distribution or withholding of certain assets from a beneficiary;
● Guardianship appointments or concerns about a guardian’s handling of a beneficiary’s inheritance;
● Power of attorney designations for healthcare or property;
● A creditor’s claim to an estate;
● How an estate is being administered, including breach of fiduciary duty; and
● Disputes related to joint tenancy accounts with rights of survivorship.

As previously mentioned, these issues can only be raised with a probate court if a petitioner can prove certain statutory grounds have been fulfilled.

When Can a Will be Contested?

In order to successfully contest a will, a petitioner must be able to prove:

● The will or trust in question was the product of undue influence by another party;
● The testator was not of sound mind at the time the will was drafted;
● The will was the product of forgery or was based on fraud or deception;
●The terms of the will are unclear and can be interpreted in different ways; or
● The will was not properly signed or executed in the presence of witnesses.

As previously mentioned, these issues can only be raised with a probate court if a petitioner can prove certain statutory grounds have been fulfilled.

Please contact one of our experienced attorneys for help determining whether your loved one’s will can be contested or defended on one or more of these grounds.

Contact Our Northbrook Contested Estates Legal Team Today

Contesting an estate involves complex legal arguments. If you are interested in challenging the validity of a loved one’s will, or are defending against such an attack by others, please call the dedicated contested estates attorneys at Orlowsky & Wilson, Ltd. Attorneys at Law today. You can reach a member of our legal team at 847-325-5559 or via online message.

Updated as of July 2019
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