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How Does Testamentary Capacity Impact Contested Wills in Illinois?

 Posted on March 13, 2024 in Estate Planning

IL estate planning lawyerPeople draw up wills to dictate how their assets will be distributed after they die. In general, whatever is included in a will is respected as the last wishes of the person whose will it is, otherwise known as a testator. However, there are some circumstances in which the people left behind challenge a will because they do not believe it reflects the real wishes of the person who signed it. There are various reasons given for such doubt, but a major claim is that the person lacked testamentary capacity when they signed it. This can be a very complicated claim to prove since you are attempting to determine the state of mind someone was in before they died. If you wish to contest a will, a Lombard, IL estate planning lawyer can provide guidance that is tailored to your specific case.

What is Testamentary Capacity?

Testamentary capacity is a person’s ability to understand the implications of their will. If it can be proven that someone didn’t have testamentary capacity when drawing up their will, the stipulations in the will can be contested. To demonstrate testamentary capacity, a person needs to:

  • Understand what a will is: They must understand that this document is intended to instruct how their assets will be distributed when they die, as they see fit.
  • Understand what assets they have: They must have knowledge of everything they possess that could be included in the will.
  • Understand the implications of their will: They must understand who they are leaving everything to and how their decisions will impact the beneficiaries. 
  • Make their decisions about their will without any external pressure: They must not be influenced, coerced, or forced into anything related to their will.

If these conditions are not met, it can be argued that this person lacked sufficient testamentary capacity and their will might be invalidated.

How Can Testamentary Capacity Help a Contested Will Argument?

If it can be determined that someone lacked testamentary capacity when they drew up or signed their will, it can be deemed invalid. To make such a claim, challengers will need to provide various types of evidence including:

  • Physical and/or mental health records
  • Witness testimony
  • Professional opinions about the testator’s condition when the will was signed.

It can be difficult to challenge a will on this basis, but with sufficient evidence and effective legal counsel, it is certainly possible.

Contact a DuPage County, IL Estate Planning Attorney

If you believe your loved one’s will does not truly reflect what they would have wanted, it can be painful and upsetting to try to prove this. An experienced Lombard, IL estate planning lawyer can help. Call A. Traub & Associates at 630-426-0196 so we can review your case and build a plan to advocate for your rights.

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