Who Has Standing To Contest A Will In Illinois?

Who Has Standing To Contest A Will In Illinois?

In Illinois, wills and trusts are entered into probate courts for approval, after which the executor of the estate disperses the assets amongst the beneficiaries as the deceased saw fit in his or her will.

However, even the best laid plans may be held up by challenges from other parties who believe they are owed a stake of the estate. These contests can sometimes take months or even longer to resolve without proper representation and advice from a legal advocate who understands these challenges.

Interested parties

Under Illinois probate laws, any “interested” party with a direct, financial, and existing interest in the estate who may be adversely affected by the probate proceedings may file a legal challenge to the will. Establishing whether or not one has standing to challenge a will is very important to the process as only certain individuals meet this standard.

Typically, parties who have standing to contest a will include persons named in a will, those who believe they should have standing, and those who were not named in a will but would stand to benefit financially if there was no will and testament in the first place.

Common examples of interested parties who may have standing to challenge the probate of a will include:

  • Beneficiaries – Persons or entities expressly named in the will. This can include family members, business associates, or institutions of worship.
  • Heirs – Without a will, living heirs of the deceased are the next in line to receive the estate’s assets. Heirs are also typically named as beneficiaries to a will.

Legal challenges to estates

Illinois has several grounds upon which a will may be contested by interested parties. This includes a party asserting undue influence over the testator (person leaving the estate), mental incapacity of the person executing the will, fraud or forgery of the will, or revocation of the will before the decedent’s passing.

How can I prevent my estate from being contested?

Individuals planning their estate may utilize a “no-contest” clause in their will to prevent heirs and other beneficiaries from contesting the probate upon their passing. What this means is that any party who contests an estate and fails in their challenge will lose all claims to the estate.

While Illinois generally enforces no-contest clauses, some courts refuse to sustain the provisions of the clause if a contest is brought in good faith by the interested party. Even still, no-contest clauses may be an effective way to ensure a civil and expedient dispersal of one’s estate upon passing.

Northbrook estate planning attorneys

Having a Northbrook estate planning attorney on your side to help craft your will can help ensure your estate is divided fairly and can prevent unnecessary challenges to it during probate. The attorneys of Orlowsky & Wilson, Ltd. have years of experience aiding clients who want to avoid having their estate become the subject of contestation.

Contact our office for a consultation. Our estate attorneys serve clients throughout Lake and Cook County.



Updated as of July 2019
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