elgin estate planning lawyerA person’s last will and testament describes their final wishes and instructions regarding asset distribution to their heirs. In some cases, family members, other beneficiaries, or others who were close to a person may be unhappy about the decisions made in the person’s will, or they may believe that a will is fraudulent. During the probate process that takes place following a person’s death, a person’s heirs or potential beneficiaries may take legal action to challenge the person’s will. However, a will can only be contested in certain cases, and those who are involved in these types of cases will want to understand how these issues will affect them.

Grounds for Contesting a Will

While one or more of a person’s heirs may be unhappy about the choices made by their loved one, claims of “unfairness” or similar issues will usually not be a valid reason to challenge the person’s will. In most cases, wills can only be contested based on one of the following issues:

  • Lack of testamentary capacity – This refers to a person’s inability to understand what they were signing when creating or updating their will. A beneficiary may claim that a person was not of sound mind, did not have the capacity to understand the decisions they were making, or was not aware of the extent of the assets they owned. While proving that a person did not have the capacity to properly execute a will can be difficult, a beneficiary may be able to do so based on medical evidence. For example, a person may provide evidence showing that the deceased person signed a new will or an update to their previous will after they had been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease or dementia.

  • Undue influence – A will may be challenged based on the claim that a beneficiary caused the deceased person to create a new will or change an existing will that went against their actual intentions. In these types of claims, a beneficiary may be accused of coercing or threatening the deceased person into making decisions for the benefit of that beneficiary. Undue influence will often involve a “fiduciary relationship” between the deceased person and a beneficiary. For example, a caretaker that assisted with the deceased person’s medical treatment and finances may be accused of convincing the person to change their will to leave most of their assets to the caretaker. 

  • Forgery or fraud – A person’s will may be contested if a beneficiary believes that the deceased person was tricked into signing the will while thinking that they were signing another type of document. A person may also claim that a will was altered after it was signed or that another party forged the deceased person’s signature.

Contact Our Kane County Probate Litigation Lawyers

If you believe that your loved one’s will is invalid, or if you are the executor of an estate who needs to respond to a challenge against a will, the lawyers of Ariano Hardy Ritt Nyuli Richmond Lytle & Goettel, P.C. can provide you with legal help and representation. We will advise you of your options and help you resolve these issues in a way that follows your loved one’s wishes. Contact our Elgin probate attorneys at [[phone]] to schedule a free consultation.




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