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What You Need to Know Regarding Contested Wills

 Posted on April 07, 2023 in Family Law Blog

arlington heights divorce lawyerA contested will can throw a family into turmoil, causing emotional distress and threatening the intended distribution of assets. Understanding the basics of contested wills and the grounds for contesting a will can help you navigate this challenging and delicate situation. Those going through a contested will process must be made aware of the reasons for contesting a will and the legal process involved.

What is a Contested Will? 

A contested will arises when someone disputes the validity of a will or its provisions. This often happens when a family member or other interested party believes the will does not reflect the testator’s (the person who made the will) wishes or that the will was executed improperly.

Grounds for Contesting a Will

There are several grounds for contesting a will, including:

  • Lack of testamentary capacity – The testator must have the mental ability to understand the nature and extent of their assets, the beneficiaries, and the implications of their decisions when making a will. If the testator lacked this capacity, the will might be deemed invalid.

  • Undue influence – If someone exerted undue influence over the testator, causing them to make decisions they would not have made otherwise, the will might be contested. Undue influence can involve manipulation, coercion, or other tactics compromising the testator’s free will. 

  • Fraud or forgery – If the will was created through fraud or someone forged the testator’s signature, the will can be contested.

  • Improper execution – Wills must be executed following specific legal requirements, such as being witnessed and signed by the testator. If these requirements are not met, the will may be declared invalid.

The Legal Process for Contesting a Will

Contesting a will typically involves filing a lawsuit in probate court. The person protesting the will, known as the contestant, must provide evidence to support their claim. The burden of proof lies with the contestant, and gathering sufficient evidence to prove their case can be challenging.

The legal process can be complex and time-consuming, often taking months or even years to resolve. Therefore, it is essential to consult with an experienced estate litigation attorney to determine the merits of your case and navigate the legal process effectively. 

Potential Outcomes of a Contested Will

If the court favors the contestant, the will may be declared invalid, either in whole or in part. Depending on the circumstances, the court may revert to a previous will, if one exists, or distribute the estate according to the state’s intestacy laws. If the court upholds the will, the estate will be distributed according to the testator’s wishes as outlined in the contested will. 

Contact a DuPage County Probate Attorney

For additional information, contact the Lombard, IL contested will lawyers with A. Traub & Associates. Call 630-426-0196 for a private consultation.




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