After a person dies, their loved ones will need to sort out their final affairs. The person who was named as the executor of the estate in the deceased person’s will is responsible for filing the will in probate court and overseeing the process of distributing the person’s assets to their heirs. There are a variety of complications that can arise during this process, and in some cases, the deceased person’s family members or other expected beneficiaries may dispute the validity of the will. By understanding the reasons why a will may be contested, executors, beneficiaries, or other involved parties can determine their options for addressing this issue.
Potential Reasons for Will Contests
After a will is filed in an Illinois probate court, interested parties (including beneficiaries, expected heirs, or creditors) will have six months to contest the will. However, there are only a few specific reasons that a will may be contested. Family members or other heirs generally cannot contest a will simply because they are unhappy with the decisions that were made. Instead, the validity of a will may be disputed if a person believes that there is evidence that the terms of the will went against the deceased person’s actual wishes. Reasons that a will may be found invalid include:
Someone coerced the deceased person into creating or updating their will – This is known as “undue influence,” and it will generally involve situations where someone in a position of power over the person convinced them to make changes to their will. For example, a nurse who provided daily care for an elderly person may have convinced the person to name them as their primary beneficiary, or a family member who managed a person’s finances may have convinced them to change their will in a way that unfairly benefits themselves or others.
The deceased person did not understand their will when they signed it – For a will to be valid, the person creating or updating it must have a full understanding of what they are signing, including the extent of the assets they own and how these assets will be distributed to their heirs. This is known as “testamentary capacity,” and a will may be invalidated if a person did not have the ability to understand what they were signing. For example, if a person updated their will after they had been diagnosed with dementia, a beneficiary may claim that they did not have the ability to understand the changes that were made.
The will filed in probate court was fraudulent – An interested party may claim that a will is invalid because someone forged the deceased person’s signature or made changes to the will after it had originally been signed.
Contact Our Glen Ellyn Probate Litigation Attorneys
If you are the executor of a loved one’s estate, NN Legal Group can provide you with legal representation during the probate process and help you determine how to respond to any challenges to the will. We also provide representation for beneficiaries in contested estates, helping them make sure their loved one’s wishes will be followed correctly. Contact our Lombard probate lawyers at 630-474-0925 to arrange a free consultation.