In Wilmington, Illinois there are particular procedures permitting certain people to challenge the validity of a will. This is recognized as a "will contest" or "contested will."

Occasionally, when a person who expected to be included in a will is left out, their natural assumption is that there was some mistake, or that the will was made through improper means, such as duress or fraud, or that the will is an outright forgery.

If a lot of money, or some specifically 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 really 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, particularly if another family member stands to lose out if you are successful in the contest, can permanently alter or even destroy family relationships. Evidently, this is something to consider.

When Can a Will be Contested in Wilmington, Illinois?

There are numerous reasons that a Wilmington, 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 usually 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. Further, 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 heavily intoxicated, the will is likely to be held invalid by a court, if the underlying facts can be shown.

There are many other facts that might make a will invalid, and therefore serve as grounds to contest a will. If a will is effectively contested in Wilmington, Illinois, and held to be invalid, this normally 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 Wilmington, Illinois Contested Will Attorney Help?

Contesting a will can be a perplexing, emotional, expensive, and time-consuming process. There is really no way around this. However, a seasoned Wilmington, Illinois wills and estates attorney can minimize these problems, and make the process as painless as possible.