Finding out you are not receiving the inheritance you expect when a loved one dies can be upsetting and you may immediately want to argue that the will should not be followed as written. However, you cannot change the terms of someone else’s will just because you do not agree with what it says. You must be able to show the will falls under one of four legal reasons most states have for contesting a will.
Reason one: Improper execution
All states, Illinois included, have laws regarding how a will must be executed. For example, it must be signed by the testator and there must be a certain number of witnesses present who also sign the will. If these requirements are not met, it could provide a basis for challenging the will.
Reason two: Lack of capacity
Anyone executing a will must have “testamentary capacity.” This means they understand the scope of their estate and who their natural heirs would be. They must also understand what it means to sign a will. If not, this could also form the basis for challenging a will.
Reason three: Undue influence
As a person ages, their physical and mental health naturally decline. This can make it easy for someone to exert pressure upon the testator so that the testator can no longer execute a will under their own free will. For example, paying for the will and isolating the testator from loved ones could lead to undue influence.
Reason four: Fraud
If a person is tricked into signing a will, this could constitute fraud and could form the basis for challenging a will. For example, a person could be given a document to sign that they are told is something other than a will, when in fact it is a will. This would constitute fraud.
Contesting a will
Although there are a variety of grounds for contesting a will, this does not mean it easy to succeed in your will contest. Proving any of these grounds can be very difficult. Generally, a will is considered the last voice of the decedent and will not be overturned unless there is ample evidence in favor of doing so. If you want to contest the will of a loved one you will have to make sure you have enough proof that the will should be considered invalid.