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What Are the Steps for Contesting a Will in Illinois?

 Posted on February 19, 2021 in Probate

IL probate attorneyEstate matters can be complicated since they involve emotional attachments to people and things. Creating a will helps make sure a person’s wishes are carried out after he or she passes away. For those individuals who are single or married with no children, a Last Will and Testament allows them to specify how their assets should be distributed to their heirs upon death. For people with children, a will can be used to address how they would like guardianship of their children to be handled. In addition, certain medical treatment that someone does or does not want to receive at the end of life can be specified. However, it is difficult to please everyone all of the time, and some relatives may not agree with the terms of a will. An experienced estate planning attorney can help families avoid contentious disputes over the contents of a will or trust.

What Is Probate?

Losing a loved one is hard under any circumstances, and it can be especially challenging when you believe your family member’s will is not valid. If you have concerns about a will, you can file what is called a will contest when it goes through probate. When someone dies, his or her estate usually must go through the legal process of probate. Probate is required for the following reasons:

  • To authenticate the decedent’s will.
  • To identify and locate all of the assets within the estate.
  • To give creditors a chance to file claims against the estate.
  • To ensure that any and all taxes on the estate are paid.

Challenging a Will

In order to contest a will in Illinois, one must typically take the below steps:

  1. Decide if you have standing to contest the will - This refers to the legal right to intervene or take action against the estate as an “interested person,” such as a beneficiary, an heir, or a creditor.
  2. Make sure you have grounds to contest the will - For example, if the decedent was coerced or forced into signing the will, or it was made under false pretenses, or the person who created the will lacked the mental capacity to fully comprehend it.
  3. File the required documents with the probate court - The required legal paperwork must be filed with the court in a certain amount of time.
  4. Participate in the discovery process - The executor of the will and the person contesting it share information and evidence for the court proceedings.
  5. Engage in mediation and/or negotiations - Through negotiations and/or mediation, a will contest can be settled outside of court without needing a trial.
  6. Go to trial if necessary - If the will cannot be settled, the case will undergo court proceedings in front of a judge or a jury.

It is important to note that if the will is found to be valid, the estate assets will be distributed through the probate process according to the terms of the will. However, if the will is deemed invalid, the court will seek to use another valid Will, but if there is not one, Illinois intestate succession laws determine how the decedent’s assets will be dispersed.

Contact a Wheaton, IL Estate Planning Lawyer

If you do not agree with the terms of your loved one’s will, you are allowed to contest it. However, anything to do with an estate is best left to the professionals. The qualified legal team at Stock, Carlson & Duff LLC has over 40 years of legal experience, helping families throughout DuPage, Cook, and Kane Counties resolve all kinds of estate matters. Whether you are drafting a will or contesting one, our reputable DuPage County estate planning attorneys will provide sound advice to help you navigate the legal process. To schedule a confidential consultation, call our office today at 630-665-2500.



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