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Should You Contest Your Loved One’s Will?

 Posted on March 15, 2017 in Estate Planning

Lombard estate planning lawyerWhen you are dealing with the loss of a family member or loved one, financial and property considerations may be the furthest thing from your mind. In the weeks that follow, however, your intense emotions are likely to subside, giving you the space to think about your loved one’s estate and his or her will. Depending on your relationship to the person and his or her accumulated property, you may be expecting a sizable inheritance. But what happens if the terms of the will are not what you expected? What if your inheritance is less than you were promised? According to Illinois law, you may have the option of contesting your loved one’s will, but doing so may not always be the best choice.

Contesting a Will

The law provides certain people with the right to file a will contest, including those who would have some claim to the decedent’s estate if the person had died without a will as well as those named in previous wills. This means that if the person who died was a family friend rather than a relative and you were never named in any version of his or her will, you have no standing to contest the final will.

In addition to being eligible to challenge the will, you must also be able to prove the will is invalid for one of four primary reasons:

  • The will was not properly signed and executed in accordance with state law;
  • The decedent lacked testamentary capacity, meaning that he or she did not understand what the will contained;
  • The will was created under the undue influence of another party; or
  • The will was fraudulently signed or created.

Practical Considerations

Even if you have the standing and legal grounds to contest your loved one’s will, there are a few other things to think about before you take legal action. Just because you can does not always mean that you should. First, you need to consider what a “successful outcome” would be for you and who else it might affect. For example, if you convince the court to invalidate the will, would the decision cost another family member a significant portion of their inheritance? You should also take into account what it might cost you to challenge the will and whether the expense is worth it. What if you spend more on the legal process than you receive upon the conclusion of the case?

Perhaps the most important thing to remember is that a will contest is likely to have an impact on at least some of your family relationships. Despite your good intentions, your actions may be misinterpreted as selfishly motivated or opportunistic. In the event that you decide to move forward anyway, you may wish to have a frank conversation with those who may be affected so that they can better understand the nature of the situation.

We Can Help

If you have been recently surprised by the contents of loved one’s will and would like to learn more about your options for challenging its validity, contact an experienced Lombard will and trusts attorney. Call 630-426-0196 for a straightforward assessment of your case today.



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