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Will Executed Under Intimidation

A will is the most common and one of the most important types of estate planning documents. With a will you can state clearly what you would like to happen with your property once you pass away. It is a legally enforceable document. Under the supervision of the probate court, your executor has the duty and legal obligation to follow the terms of your will. However, if there is evidence that the will does not actually reflect the wishes of the testator, then the court will step in and invalidate the will. The court will not probate a will that is not valid. One reason that a will would be invalid is if the testator executed it because someone was intimidating him (or her). If you are concerned about a will executed under intimidation, contact an experienced Chicago will contest lawyer to discuss options for filing a will contest. We have the knowledge and resources to help protect your legal rights.

Will Executed Under Intimidation

Will executed under intimidation involves someone forcing another person to make a will that he would not have otherwise made. Intimidation can take a number of forms. For example, if a testator is dependent on a caretaker for food, and the caretaker withholds food from the testator in order to force the testator to make a will that was favorable to the caretaker, then that would be a form of intimidation. A will made under those circumstances would not be valid because it would be a will executed under intimidation.

Another form of intimidation would be physical force, or the threat of physical force. The physical force or threat of physical force does not necessarily have to be against the testator. If someone threatened a relative or close friend of the testator in order to get the testator to change his will, that would be a form of intimidation that would make any will executed under those conditions invalid.

Legal Standing to Contest a Will

Illinois has strict rules related to who has a legal right to contest a will. Just because someone feels that a will is unfair or that intimidation was used, does not mean that the person has a legal right to petition the court to investigate the circumstances surrounding the executing of that will. Under Illinois law only beneficiaries and heirs have that legal right, because beneficiaries and heirs have immediate, direct, financial interests in the will.

A beneficiary would be anyone who the testator named in the will as receiving part of his estate. While in most cases beneficiaries are relatives, beneficiaries can also be friends, employees, or entities such as a charitable organization or an educational organization. An heir would be a relative that would have the legal right under the laws of intestate succession to receive a distribution from the testator‘s estate if there was no will at all.

Challenging a will based on an allegation of intimidation is not easy. Not only must you be an interested party such as a beneficiary or an heir, you must also have evidence to support your claim. Contact a Chicago will contest lawyer to discuss your concerns and to help you proceed with the case.

Consequences of Successful Challenge

If an interested party petitions the court arguing that the will was executed while the testator was under duress due to intimidation, and there is sufficient evidence to prove the claim, the judge would have no choice but to declare that the will is invalid. The court will not probate an invalid will. After invalidating the will, the court has two options. The first option is that the court will probate a prior will. If there was a prior will that is in fact valid, then the court will probate that will. This is a desired result because the prior will likely reflects the true wishes of the testator because it would have been executed without the presence of intimidation.

The second option will be used if there is no prior will. As a will contest attorney in Chicago will explain, the court would have no choice but to proceed as if the testator died without leaving a will. This means that the court would have to distribute the assets of the estate based on the rules of intestate succession. This means that the assets would go to the testator’s surviving spouse, if any. If the testator left a spouse and children, then the estate would be split with the surviving spouse getting 50% of the estate and the children dividing the remaining 50% of the estate. If there are children but no spouse, then the children would divide the entire estate. If there are no children and no spouse, then the estate will be divided among other blood relative according to an order of priority stated in the statute.

Contact the Law Offices of Stephen Bilkis & Associates

If you are an interested party, and you believe that the will of a loved one is invalid due to intimidation, contact a will contest attorney serving Chicago at the Law Offices of Stephen Bilkis & Associates. We have the skill and resources to ensure that your legal rights 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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