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Do You Really Have Grounds for Contesting a Will?

 Posted on July 15, 2016 in Estate Planning

Lombard estate planning lawyersChallenging the validity of someone’s will is not an easy undertaking, regardless of your reasons for opposing the document. Contesting a will is both time-consuming and expensive, and, in many cases, the effort to contest is more trouble than it is worth, especially in wake of the person's death. Additionally, not everyone is eligible to contest a will. In most cases, the person contesting must be listed as a beneficiary in the will in order to proceed with the objection.

Despite these considerations, however, there are certain instances where the desire to contest a will is understandable and within reason. In these cases, your best bet is to consult a competent estate planning attorney, who can help assist and guide you in the matter. You can begin the process by examining the following to determine whether or not you have legitimate grounds for contesting a will:

Can You Prove the Decedent Was Unduly Influenced?

Illinois law describes influence as “undue” when it “prevents the testator from exercising his own will in the disposition of his estate.” This can be difficult to prove, but it generally revolves around the testator, or creator, of the will being placed under severe stress in the midst of drafting the will. Threats, verbal abuse, and serious pressure to manipulate and shape the will can cause a serious burden on the person creating the document and can ultimately affect their decision-making.

It often takes much more to contest than simply alleging these circumstances. For example, you must be able to further prove that the testator was taken advantage of and that the will was tampered with in some way. Common examples of this include the testator being isolated from family and friends or the will being hidden or discussed with the testator’s attorney without their permission.

Can You Prove the Document Was Forged or Altered in Some Way?

Sometimes a signature on a will is forged, but sometimes the will itself is the result of a complete fraudulent act. This can mean that the testator was somehow “tricked” into signing the document. For example, sometimes a false or manipulated will is presented to an individual as an entirely different document, designed for a specific purpose (such as a power of attorney form), and the person signs the document without realizing it was, in fact, a will.

In order to use forgery as grounds for invalidating a will, Illinois law requires you to furnish proof that the testator was not present for the signing of the will, that the witnesses were somehow unworthy, or that the document was signed in someone else’s handwriting. Doing so can be quite challenging, but if you believe you have sufficient evidence, discuss your case with a qualified DuPage County wills and estate planning attorney, who can help ensure your contested will concerns are properly addressed. Call A. Traub & Associates at 630-426-0196 for a confidential consultation today.



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