A last will and testament may be one of the most important documents of a person’s estate plan, and because of the power of a will, it’s essential to make sure that it covers every angle according to the individual’s wishes. When a person dies and his/her will goes into effect, the courts try to follow its measures as much as possible. However, during some probate hearings, another individual can contest the details of the will.
Whether you’re contesting a will, or you don’t believe that another individual should be contesting your family member’s will, you need to have an experienced and knowledgeable Chicago estate planning attorney at your side. A will contest can be difficult for family members, but it is also a legally complex matter. Make sure to get the leading estate planning attorney to help you through a contest by calling James C. Provenza & Associates today.
Grounds for Contesting a Will
There are many legitimate reasons for contesting a last will and testament. Unfortunately, at the end of someone’s life, they can be quite vulnerable to malevolent actions, ranging from fraud to unduly influence. In other cases, the will might not have complied with Illinois laws or the Testator lacked the mental capacity to sign and complete a will. Below, you’ll find some common grounds for contesting a will.
The will wasn’t signed in compliance with Illinois laws
One common ground for a will contest is that the will wasn’t signed in compliance with Illinois laws. For instance, in Illinois, a will must be signed with two or more credible witnesses present to validate or attest the will. As such, the witnesses must sign or acknowledge the will, confirm that the Testator is sound of mind, and sign the will in front of the Testator. If the will wasn’t signed in this manner, there could be grounds to contest the will.
The Testator lacked a testamentary capacity to sign a will
In essence, testamentary capacity means that the Testator understands the following:
- The Testator knows the nature and value of his or her assets
- The Testator knows the natural objects of those assets (and who should logically inherit the assets)
- The Testator knows the legal effect of signing a will
Often, the witnesses of the will signing are crucial in terms of attesting to the Testator’s mental capacity.
The Testator was unduly influenced to sign a will
As individuals get older, they may become weaker in both body and mind. This makes them more susceptible to influence from others, and, unfortunately, there are some individuals who’ll take advantage of an older person for personal gain. Often, grounds of undue influence involves extreme pressure or severe duress.
The Testator was tricked into signing a will (will procured by fraud)
A will procured by fraud occurs when the Testator was tricked into signing a will. This type of fraud can occur if a person maliciously places a will in front of the Testator, but tells the Testator that he/she is signing a deed or a power of attorney. Illinois law tries to eliminate chances of this ever occurring by requiring two witnesses, but, unfortunately, this type of fraud still happens.
Contact James C. Provenza & Associates Today
If you believe that there were some shady circumstances around a will, you may need to contest it in probate court. Because the Testator may not be around, these cases can be very difficult to prove. However, with an experienced and expert Chicago estate planning attorney at your side, you can give your case a strong legal backing. For a free, no-obligation consultation with James C. Provenza & Associates, call our Chicago law office today at (847) 729-3939.