In East Moline, Illinois, there is a procedure through which a person can challenge the validity of a will. This is identified as a "contested will" or "will contest."

Sometimes, testators leave out of their wills people who might normally expect to inherit a large portion of the testator's estate (spouses, for instance). This might lead them to assume, correctly or not, that the will was a mistake.

If a lot of money, or some particularly valuable property, is at stake, the person who was left out might want to go to court and allege that the will was invalid. When left out of a will, a family member might naturally assume that some kind of mistake has been made, whether this is directly true or not.

Bringing legal action against anyone, let alone a family member, is not a decision that you should rush into. Contesting a will, especially if another family member stands to lose out if you are successful in the contest, can permanently alter or even destroy family relationships. Obviously, this is something to consider.

When Can a Will be Contested in East Moline, Illinois?

There are many reasons that a East Moline, Illinois court might hold a will to be invalid.

To be valid, a will must be a product of the testator's own free will. So, a will that the testator was forced or tricked into making is not valid, if the probate court finds out about the duress or trickery. Of course, wills are normally made many years before a person dies, so how can a person expect to prove duress or fraud if they suspect it? To begin with, it's not easy. It is possible, however. First of all, it's good to have as much documentation of the testator's affairs as possible. Any written statements concerning their desires on this matter will also be very useful, if there are any. Additionally, if the suspect gift is totally out of left field (property is left to someone that you know the testator didn't like, or barely knew, for instance), this might also support your position that the will was invalid. Of course, the testator can leave his or her money to whomever they want, so these facts, by themselves, will not be enough to prove fraud or duress.

Another thing to consider is the mental capacity of the person making the will. If, at the time the will was made, the testator was insane or severely intoxicated, the will is likely to be held invalid by a court, if the underlying facts can be proven.

There are many other facts that might make a will invalid, and thus serve as grounds to contest a will. If a will is successfully contested in East Moline, Illinois, and held to be invalid, this typically results in the property being distributed as if the decedent had died intestate (without a will). This means that it will usually go to the decedent's closest living relative.

Can a East Moline, Illinois Contested Will Attorney Help?

Because this can involve complicated legal issues, and be very emotionally draining, this is not something you want to go at alone. A knowledgeable lawyer in East Moline, Illinois can be very helpful in making sure that this process goes as smoothly as possible.