If you have recently experienced the death of a loved one, it is understandable that you may have needed some time for things to get back to normal, especially if you had a close relationship with the person who died. Unfortunately, when the person’s will is presented for probate, there is the possibility of new problems. What happens, for example, if you discover that your loved one has made some unexpected changes or decisions regarding his or her will? In such a situation, you may have the option of contesting the will, but there are some considerations to address before you file.
Disagreement Is Not Enough
Perhaps the most important thing to remember is that in any situation involving a will or the transfer of a decedent’s assets, it is practically guaranteed that someone will feel slighted or left out altogether. That someone may have expected to receive a particular part of the deceased person’s estate only to learn that the expectations were never written into the will. While you might be disappointed or hurt by how your loved one decided to distribute his or her property, hurt feelings are not grounds for contesting a will.
Grounds for a Will Contest
Under the law in Illinois, there are several situations in which challenging a will would be appropriate. These include:
- The will was not executed properly: In Illinois, two separate people must witness the signing of the will. Named beneficiaries cannot be witnesses;
- Lack of testamentary capacity: If your loved one was not of sound mind or otherwise did not understand the terms and implications of his or her decisions, the will could be invalidated;
- Undue influence: Estate planning decisions are extremely personal and should be made voluntarily. If another person—including a family member or caregiver—pressured or coerced your loved one into making changes or writing a new will, the resulting document could be set aside by the court;
- Fraud: During the process of estate planning, there are often many documents that must be signed and executed, many of which are prepared by another person. If your loved one, for example, signed the will believing it to be a different document—such as a medical directive—the court could decide that the will was procured through fraud.
In order for your will contest to be successful, you will need to prove your allegations. Doing so can be extremely difficult, but it may the only way for you to ensure that your loved one’s estate is handled as he or she intended.
Call a Wheaton Will Contest Attorney
Filing a will contest can have a dramatic effect on your family dynamics, so it is not a decision to made lightly. Before you take action, contact a DuPage County estate planning lawyer at Stock, Carlson, Oldfield & McGrath LLC today. Call 630-665-2500 for a confidential consultation, and get the help you need.