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Illinois Probate Act 755 ILCS 5/6-18: Will as Evidence

After someone passes away, if he (or she) wrote a will, the will must be probated and the decedent’s estate must go through a process called administration. This is process is managed by the executor or estate administrator, and it is overseen by the Chicago area Probate Court that has jurisdiction over the estate. However, there may be occasions in which a will from another state or from another country is required as evidence in a legal proceeding in Illinois. Under Illinois Probate Act section 6-18- Will as evidence, an authenticated copy of a last will and testament, along with the order admitting it or denying it to probate are evidence in any court in Illinois. If you have questions or concerns about a will from another jurisdiction, contact the skilled Chicago probate attorneys at the Law Offices of Stephen Bilkis & Associates.

Authenticating a Will

The process of authenticating a will involves proving that the will is authentic. This process is referred to as probate. Each state has probate courts that have jurisdiction of probate and the administration of estates. In order for a will to be considered valid, it must have been executed in a manner required by the law of state or country in which it was executed. When a will is filed with the probate court, the court will review the will to make sure that it was executed in the manner required by law.

Proving a will. The term “probate” means “prove.” A probate court will not admit a will that is determines to be inauthentic. Typically to be valid a will must be signed by the testator as well as at least two witnesses. By signing the will, the witnesses are acknowledging that testator sign the will and that they believed the testator to be of sound mind at the time he or she signed the will. If a will is not signed by the testator and two witnesses, then the will would not be admitted to probate.

As an experienced probate attorney in Chicago will explain, in Illinois as in many other states, a will can be “self-proving.” This means that the witnesses sign a notarized affidavit during the execution of the will and affix it to the will. In the affidavit, the witnesses acknowledge they observed the testator sign the will and that they believed the testator to be of sound mind at the time he or she signed the will. If the will is not self-proving, then when a petition is filed to admit the will to probate, the witnesses will be called into the probate court to testify as to the authenticity of the will.

Objections to Probate

While the rules vary by jurisdiction, in Illinois a petition to challenge a will must be filed within six months of when the will was admitted to probate. In addition, only interested parties have the right to file objections to probate. Typically, interested parties include beneficiaries and heirs. A common reason for objecting to a will is the belief that the testator lacked the mental capacity to make a will. To learn more about what it means to lack mental capacity and proof required, contact a Chicago probate lawyer.

Another basis for disputing will documents is that the will was made while the testator was being illegally influenced and manipulated by someone who was out for financial gain. Similarly, if the will was forged or if some other fraud was involved in the writing or executing of the will, the will would be invalid.

Will as Evidence

Regardless of whether the will is admitted to probate or denied, an authenticated copy of the will coupled with the order admitting it or denying it to probate are evidence in any Illinois court.

Related Statutory Provisions
  1. Petition to admit will or to issue letters: Illinois Probate Act, 755 ILCS 5/6-2
  2. Power of administrator with the will annexed: Illinois Probate Act, 755 ILCS 5/6-16
Illinois Probate Act, Section 6-18- Will as Evidence

An authenticated copy of a domestic or foreign will and of the order admitting it or denying it to probate are evidence in any court in this State.

Contact the Law Offices of Stephen Bilkis & Associates

If you have questions about probating a will, including questions related to probating a will from another jurisdiction, it is important that you discuss your concerns with an experienced attorney. The probate attorneys serving Chicago at the Law Offices of Stephen Bilkis & Associates have years of experience working closely with executors and estate administrators on matters related to the estate administration. If you have concerns related to the administration of an estate including the requirements of Illinois Probate Act section 6-18- Will as evidence, contact one of our skilled attorneys at 855-454-5529 to schedule a free, no obligation consultation regarding your case. We serve clients throughout Chicago.

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