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Will Executed Under Fraud

A last will and testament is supposed to be a person’s opportunity to retain control over what happens to his (or her) assets once he passes away. Through a will a testator can decide who gets his property and who does not. He can be very specific about stating which of his loved ones gets his money, who gets his house, who gets his car, and who gets other personal property. The testator can be very clear about which relatives are disinherited. Unfortunately, there are occasions in which people who would not otherwise have received anything from the testator in the will use fraudulent means to get control of the estate. If you have concerns about a will executed under fraud, the law allows the filing of a will contest. This type of probate litigation allows interested parties to petition the court and challenge the validity of a will. To learn more about the process contact an experienced Chicago will contest lawyer to discuss your concerns.

Will Executed Under Fraud A will executed under fraud is a will that does not reflect the testator’s wishes due to deceit. Activities that would result in a fraudulent will include:

  • Physical or psychological duress
  • Undue influence
  • Forgery
Example

When Becky passed away, her husband, Bart filed a will with the probate court that named him as the executor and sole beneficiary of Becky’s estate. Becky’s daughter, Abigail, who was also Bart’s stepdaughter, filed an objection to the will on the grounds of fraud. With the help of a will contest attorney in Chicago, Abigail was able to show that neither of the witnesses had actually signed the will. In fact, one of the witnesses had passed away 3 months prior to when he supposedly witnessed Becky signing the will. In this case there was clear evidence of a will executed under fraud

Legal Standing in Illinois

If you are concerned that fraud was involved with a will, even if you have evidence of such fraud, you will not be permitted to file a will challenge unless you have legal standing to do so. Under the Illinois law only those who have an immediate, direct financial interest in the will have the legal standing to challenge the will.

Anybody or any entity named as a beneficiary in the will that is challenged would have standing. This would include relatives who were named in the will, friends who are named in the will, other people who are named in the will, and entities such as charitable organizations named in the will. In addition, relatives who are legal heirs of the decedent would also have standing to initiate a will challenge.

If you are unsure as to whether you have legal standing to challenge a will, an experienced Chicago will contest lawyer will be able to determine your status.

Consequences of a Finding of Fraud

If the court agrees that there was fraud involved with the will, there are several potential consequences:

  • Fraudulent will thrown out. Because the law does not allow a fraudulent will to be probated, the court may proceed as if it never existed.
  • Use prior will. If the testator created a will prior to the one that was declared invalid the court may probate that will instead.
  • No will. If the court determines that the will should be invalidated because of fraud, and there is no prior will, the court will proceed with the administration of the estate as if the testator passed away without a will. The result would be that the decedent’s estate would be distributed according to the Illinois rules of intestate succession. The decedent’s statutory heirs would receive the assets.

A likely consequence of any type of will challenge is that the entire process of probate will be delayed. Even if the court determines that there was no fraud and that will is valid, the time involved in the court reviewing evidence, and making a determination as to whether or not there was fraud would take time. In Illinois probate typically takes 6-12 months. With the added time of the will contest, it may take over 12 months before the dispute is settled and assets are distributed to beneficiaries or heirs.

Contact the Law Offices of Stephen Bilkis & Associates

If you believe that the will of a loved one is fraudulent, 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, powers of attorney, and other estate documents. We will explain the details of how to proceed with a will contest and help ensure that your interests are protected throughout the process. 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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