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Illinois Probate Act 755 ILCS 5/6-21: Formal Proof of Will

After a loved one passes away and leaves a will, before his (or her) estate can be distributed according to the terms of the will, the will must be submitted to the Chicago area Probate Court with jurisdiction. The will must be determined to be authentic before the court will admit it to probate and give the executor the authorization to move forward with the process of administering the estate. If you are an executor, beneficiary, or other interested party in a probate proceeding and have questions related to the requirements of probate, including the requirements of the Illinois Probate Act section 6-21- Formal proof of will, contact the skilled Chicago probate attorneys at the Law Offices of Stephen Bilkis & Associates who can explain the procedural requirements.

Probate Process

Probate is the legal process that involves proving a will is authentic. Typically, probate begins when someone, typically the executor, submits the will to the Probate Court and along with a petition. The petition must list the names and addresses of the beneficiaries named in the will, as well as the names and addresses.

If the will is self-proving, then probate is typically relatively simple and quick. A self-proving will is a last will and testament that includes an affidavit signed by the two witnesses in the presence of the testator. The affidavit must state that the will witnesses observed the testator sign the will. The affidavit must also state that the witnesses believe that testator was of sound mind t the time when he or she executed the will.

If the will is not self-proving, then the Illinois Probate Act requires that the two witnesses testify in court under oath that they observed the testator sign the will and that they believed that the testator was not suffering from a mental incapacity at the time he or she signed the will.

If the judge is satisfied that the will is valid, the judge will issue an order admitting it to probate. If there is evidence that the will is not valid, then the judge will deny probate.

Notice Requirements

Whether the will is admitted to probate or probate is denied, as Chicago probate attorney will explain, the law requires that the petition a copy of the order to the beneficiaries and heirs listed in the petition. Such notice must be sent no more that 14 days after the entry of the order. If the address of any of the individuals required to receive notice is not known, then the petition must publish notice.

However, under Illinois Probate Act, section 6-21- Formal proof of will, if a will is admitted to probate, before notice, anybody who is entitled to notice may petition the Probate Court to require proof of the will. The court is required to hold a hearing on the matter, and interested parties must receive notice of the hearing. At the hearing, the proponent of the will must establish its authenticity by calling the witnesses who signed the will. If the proponent is successful in establishing that the will is valid, then the original order admitting the will to probate will stand.

Objecting to a Will

It is important to understand that interested parties have the right to object to probate and file a will contest. If an interested party such as a beneficiary or heir has evidence that the will is not valid because the testator was mentally incompetent at the time he or she signed it, that the testator was subjected to duress or undue influence, or that fraud was involved, then the court will invalidate the will.

If you have concerns related to the authenticity of the will of loved one, discuss your concerns with an experienced probate attorney in Chicago who has the skill and resources to help you challenge the will.

Related Statutory Provisions
  1. Petition to admit will or to issue letters: Illinois Probate Act, 755 ILCS 5/6-2
  2. Admission of will to probate - testimony or affidavit of witnesses: Illinois Probate Act, 755 ILCS 5/6-4
  3. Deposition of witness: Illinois Probate Act, 755 ILCS 5/6-5
  4. Notice - waiver: Illinois Probate Act, 755 ILCS 5/6-10
Illinois Probate Act, Section 6-21- Formal Proof of Will

If a will has been admitted to probate before notice in accordance with Section 6-4, any person entitled to notice under Section 6-10 may file a petition within 42 days after the effective date of the original order admitting the will to probate to require proof of the will pursuant to this Section. The court must set the matter for hearing upon such notice to interested persons as the court directs. At the hearing the proponent must establish the will by testimony of the witnesses as provided in subsection 6-4 (b) (1) or Section 6-5 or other evidence as provided in this Act, but not as provided by subsection 6-4 (b) (2) or subsection 6-4 (b) (3), as if the will had not originally been admitted to probate. If the proponent establishes the will by sufficient competent evidence, the original order admitting it to probate and the original order appointing the representative shall be confirmed and are effective as to all persons, including creditors, as of the dates of their entries, unless there is proof of fraud, forgery, compulsion or other improper conduct, which in the opinion of the court is sufficient to invalidate or destroy the will. The time for filing a petition to contest a will under Section 8-1 is not extended by the filing of the petition under this Section if the order admitting the will to probate is confirmed, but if that order is vacated, the time for filing the petition under Section 8-2 runs from the date of vacation of the order admitting the will to probate.

Contact the Law Offices of Stephen Bilkis & Associates

Probate is a complicated process that includes a number of procedural requirements that must be followed. If you are an executor, beneficiary, or other interested party in a probate proceeding, contact a probate attorney serving Chicago at the Law Offices of Stephen Bilkis & Associates to ensure that all procedural requirements are followed. Our attorneys have decades of experience representing clients in complex probate and estate matters before the Illinois Probate Court. If you have concerns related to probate including the requirements of Illinois Probate Act section 6-21- Formal proof of will, or any other probate or estate matter contact one of our skilled attorneys attorneys at 855-454-5529 to schedule a free, no obligation consultation regarding your case. We serve clients throughout Chicago.

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