A last will and testament is a legal document that instructs how a deceased person’s assets will be distributed, who will inherit these assets and who will care for the minor children if applicable. Most of the time, the terms set forth in a will are fairly straightforward, however there are times when those with an interest in the estate (such as heirs, beneficiaries and creditors) may dispute the terms or validity. This process is known as a contested estate.
Reasons for Contesting a Will
Those contesting a will filed in probate court in Illinois have six months to file a claim. There are several reasons for contesting an estate. The primary reasons include fraud, undue influence or mental capacity.
- Fraud or forgery – Fraud occurs if a will was altered without a testator’s knowledge or in the event of an untrustworthy witnesses execution or if it is believed that the testator was led to believe the terms in the will are different from what they believe they signed. In such cases, it may be possible to have the will invalidated.
- Undue influence – An interested person, who believes the testator might have been coerced into signing their will by an interested beneficiary to the estate, may attempt to have the testator’s will invalidated due to undue influence.
- Mental capacity – Individuals executing a will must be of sound mind in order for the will to be valid. Additionally, they must understand who are their heirs what assets they own and how they are distributing their property. An interested person can have the will invalidated if they can prove the testator was not of sound mind at the time of the signing.
Resolving Issues with Contested Estates in Illinois
It is not uncommon that disputes will arise regarding the terms of wills and the transfer of assets within estates. These disputes occur for a variety of reasons ranging from minor disagreements to major allegations of fraud or misconduct in the execution of a will. If you have a concern regarding an estate you or a loved one is involved with, contact Heitz and Bromberek to discuss your situation.
Preventing Estate Issues in Illinois
The attorneys at Heitz and Bromberek are well experienced in estate planning and can help prevent family disagreements over the transfer of assets within your estate. You can count on over 30 years of our experience to ensure your estate is carried out according to your wishes.
If you would to discuss your case with an attorney, call us at (630) 355-1458 for a consultation today!