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Richard Hellerman
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Will Executed Under Duress

It can be extremely disappointing, even devastating to learn that a loved one left you out of his (or her) will. This is particularly the case if you had a great relationship with the decedent and you were under the impression that you would receive something from the testator‘s estate. What would make matters even worse is the realization that the decedent did indeed plan to leave you a gift in his will, but you were disinherited because the will was executed under duress of another person. Fortunately, Illinois law allows individuals to challenge a will executed under duress. If you believe that the will of a loved one was created under duress, contact a Chicago will contest lawyer at the Law Offices of Stephen Bilkis & Associates. We will listen to your concerns and assist you in filing a challenge to the will that you believe to be invalid.

Will Executed Under Duress

Duress occurs when someone uses physical force or the threat of harm in order to force a testator to make a will that he would not have otherwise made. Examples of duress include forcing the testator to make will by:

  • Physically harming the testator or a relative or friend of the testator
  • Threatening to physically harm the testator or a relative or friend of the testator
  • Threatening to humiliate, disgrace, or cause a scandal about the testator or a relative or friend of the testator
  • Threatening to causes financial harm to the testator, or relative or friend of the testator

There are many actions that could amount to duress. For example, a caretaker who withholds food or water from a dependent testator in order to force the testator to leave his estate to the caretaker would be a form of a will executed under duress. For more information about whether certain actions amount to duress, contact a Chicago will contest lawyer. Keep in mind that for a will contest based on duress to be successful, you must provide evidence of the actions that amounted to duress.

Legal Standing in Illinois

In order to challenge a will based on duress, you must have legal standing to do so. This means that you must be an interested party. Interested parties are those who have an immediate, direct financial interest in the outcome of a will challenge. Generally, those who have standing are limited to beneficiaries and heirs. Beneficiaries are those who a testator names in her will to receive assets. While beneficiaries are typically relatives, they can also be non-relatives as well as entities such as religious institutions, schools, or charities. Heirs are relatives who would be legally entitled to receive portions of your estate in the absence of a will.

Consequences of a Will Challenge

As an experienced will contest attorney in Chicago will explain, there are a number of consequences of a will challenge based on duress, regardless of whether or not the challenge is successful.

  • Delay probate. The probate court will not allow probate to proceed until the will challenge is resolved. This means that what is typically at 6-12 month process will likely be quite a bit longer.
  • Will declared invalid. If the will challenge based on duress is successful, the judge will declare the will invalid. The judge will not admit an invalid will to probate. If there is a prior valid will, that will be probated. If there is not a prior valid will, the estate will be distributed to the decedent’s legal heirs according to the rules of intestate succession.

Because the stakes are high when a will is challenged, if you are an interested party in a will contest, regardless of whether or not you initiated the challenge, it is important that you are presented by an experienced Chicago attorney who is familiar with Illinois Probate Court procedures.

Contact the Law Offices of Stephen Bilkis & Associates

If you believe that duress was the reason that your loved one changed his or her will, contact an experienced will contest attorney serving Chicago at the Law Offices of Stephen Bilkis & Associates. We have years of experience representing executors, beneficiaries, and heirs in disputes related to wills, trusts, and estate documents. We will explain the details of who can challenge a will and help ensure that your interests are protected. Contact us at 855-454-5529 to schedule a free, no obligation consultation regarding your case. We serve individuals throughout Chicago.

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