Grounds for Contesting a Will

When a loved one has died, the emotional strain on you and your family can be nearly overwhelming. Depending on your relationship to the deceased, you may be responsible for making funeral arrangements, notifying distant relatives, and any number of other necessary considerations. You may not even give any thought to your loved one’s will until well after his or her death. When you finally do, however, you may discover that it does not seem right and that the will does not actually reflect what you know your loved one wanted. In such cases, contesting the will may be necessary, but doing so is not a process to take lightly.

Why to Contest a Will

A challenge to a will can be brought in probate court for a number of reasons. It is important to realize, however, that a will contest based solely on a disagreement with the decision of the decedent, or testator, is not usually sufficient. As long as the testator was of sound mind and not unduly influenced, he or she was under no obligation to draft a will to meet your expectations. You may, on the other hand, successfully contest a will if you are able to sufficiently prove:

  • Fraud: The testator was tricked into signing a will or otherwise misled to include particular clauses;
  • Improper influence: Another party extensively an inappropriately pressured the decedent into changing the will, often to the pressuring party’s exclusive benefit;
  • Invalidity: The will was drafted or executed in accordance with applicable state laws; and
  • Mental incapacity: Illness, confusion, or other factors affected the testator’s ability to make reasonable decisions regarding the disposition of his or her estate.

Obviously, the grounds on which will can be contested may be extremely difficult to prove. Often, it will require more than just recounting conversations with the deceased; you will more likely need to establish a pattern of behavior with which the will is inconsistent. As with all legal proceedings, any written or physical proof you are able to provide will only serve to strengthen your case.

Get the Guidance You Need

If you have found that a loved one’s will contains very questionable provisions, it is important to seek legal counsel before deciding to proceed with a will contest. Contact an experienced Orland Park probate attorneytoday for a free initial consultation. We will evaluate your situation and help you understand your options. If moving forward with the contest is appropriate, we can provide the qualified representation you deserve at every stage of the process.