It is not uncommon for a relative, a friend, or someone else to not be happy with what a deceased left him (or her) in his will. There are occasions when a relative believed that he was going to receive money in the will but the deceased left him nothing. There are also cases where a relative or friend thought that she was going to receive a beautiful piece of jewelry or a house from the deceased but, but the deceased left them to another person. Learning that a will did not provide as expected often leads to a will challenge. A will challenge is a type of estate litigation during which someone who objects to the validity of a will formally petitions the court to declare that the will is invalid. However, there are specific legal requirements for a will challenge. If you are concerned about the validity of a will, contact an experienced Chicago will challenge lawyer who will work with you closely to help ensure that your interests are protected throughout the process.Standing to Challenge a Will
In Illinois in order to challenge a will you must have legal standing to do so. The law does not allow for just anyone to petition the court are you wan that the well is invalid. Those who have standing to challenge a will are only those who have a direct, immediate, pecuniary interest in the will. Those people generally would be beneficiaries and legal heirs. A beneficiary is someone who is named in the will. Typically beneficiaries are close family members such as spouses, children, siblings, and parents. Beneficiaries also could be friends, employees, or even an organization such as the decedent’s alma mater, a charitable organization, or a church or other type of religious institution.
Heirs are those who would by law receive a distribution from the estate of the decedent if there was no will. Illinois has a set of rules called intestate succession rules. If a decedent passes away without making a will, certain specific relatives have the legal right to estate assets. This generally means that the spouse and children would receive the entire estate. In the absence of a spouse or children there are specific blood relatives who would receive the property.Grounds for a Will Challenge
Courts do not take the idea of invalidating wills lightly. Furthermore, will challenges can be lengthy and costly for the estate. Thus, as a Chicago will challenge lawyer will explain, in order to petition the court to invalidate a will you not only have to standing, you must also have legal grounds for a will challenge. Legal grounds include:
- Incapacity. The law requires that a testator must have testamentary capacity. This means that the testator must have the mental ability to understand that ramifications of making a will, who his heirs are, and the extent of his estate. If there is evidence that the testator did not have testamentary capacity at the time of executing the will, the court may have no choice but to invalidate the will.
- Undue influence. Undue influence occurs when someone has a position of power over the testator who is in a weakened or vulnerable position, and uses that position to manipulate the testator to make a favorable will. For example, a nurse or a home healthcare worker who is responsible for the testator’s care would have a position of power over the testator.
As a will challenge attorney in Chicago will explain if a will challenge is successful then the court will not probate it. It would be as if that particular will never existed. If there is a prior will that is valid, the court will probate that will. If there is no prior valid well, then the court will treat the estate as if the testator never created a will. In other words the estate will be distributed to the testator‘s legal heirs under the rules of intestate succession. That means that if the testator had a spouse and no children, the surviving spouse would get 100% of the estate. If the testator has children but no surviving spouse, the children will receive the entire estate in equal shares. If there is a surviving spouse and children, the spouse will get 50% of the estate and the other 50% of the estate will be divided among the children. If there is no spouse and no children, the estate will go to other blood relatives based on priority as described in Illinois Probate Law.Contact the Law Offices of Stephen Bilkis & Associates
If you are a beneficiary, heir, or executor of a will that is the subject of a will challenge, it is important that you are represented by a will challenge attorney serving Chicago who has experience. The experienced attorneys at the Law Offices of Stephen Bilkis & Associates have years of experience representing executors, beneficiaries, and heirs in disputes related to wills, trusts, and estate documents. We are here to help. Contact us at 855-454-5529 to schedule a free, no obligation consultation regarding your case. We serve individuals throughout Chicago.