If someone you love passes away and you discover to your surprise that you’ve been left out of the will, you may be able to contest it based on any one of several valid issues. Whether you feel it was an honest oversight or you feel that someone used undue pressure against your loved one to change their will before they passed away, meeting with litigation attorneys in Chicago is a good first step. They can review the will and determine how to go about contesting it in court. There are several reasons why probate litigation attorneys might dispute these documents, including improper execution or coercion of the deceased. These attorneys can also represent you as an heir of someone who has passed away without a will, which unfortunately often leads to squabbles between relatives. If you and other potential heirs can’t agree, things could turn into a lengthy battle in probate court, giving rise to animosity and damaged relationships. The goal of probate litigation attorneys in Chicago is to quickly resolve the situation with minimal fuss. Some of the most common reasons to contest someone’s will include:
Documents That Weren’t Prepared Properly
If the will wasn’t prepared in accordance with Illinois state inheritance laws, it may be invalid. One common mistake is not having it properly witnessed and signed by two witnesses who not only saw the writer sign, but also saw each other sign. In other words, both the individual and his or her two witnesses should be in the same room at the same time when signing. In this case, litigation attorneys in Chicago may be able to resolve the issue relatively quickly.
The Decedent Didn’t Have Testamentary Capacity
“Testamentary capacity” is simply the ability of the person writing the will to rightly understand what their estate and any assets are worth and truly understand the ramifications of how they are disposing of it. Litigation attorneys in Chicago may contest the document on a variety of grounds, including whether or not the deceased was capable of realizing the unintended results of excluding specific individuals from the estate. Because each person has their own opinion about whether another person should have inherited, contesting the will on these grounds can be a complex process.
The Decedent Was Under Extreme Duress
Our Chicago litigation attorneys have seen many situations where a frail or ailing individual has been pressured to alter their will by an unscrupulous relative or friend. In some cases, the pressure is severe enough to be considered undue influence, particularly when the document goes against the individual’s stated wishes. There is a clear burden to prove that the deceased was pressured before they died in a manner that went beyond nagging. In court, you’ll generally need to provide evidence and reliable testimony that the accused person used extreme measures such as isolating the individual, stealing an earlier version of the will, physical abuse or having the document prepared by their own attorney rather than the decedent’s lawyer. Peck Ritchey’s litigation attorneys can review your case and determine whether you have a valid claim to contest the will.
The Will Was The Result Of Fraud
Do you believe your loved one was tricked into signing a will that he didn’t understand? Are you afraid that he might have signed a will not realizing what he were signing? If so, the courts shouldn’t accept the document because it is fraudulent. Manipulative relatives sometimes coerce elderly individuals who are easily confused in order to make sure they aren’t left out of the will or to increase their share of the estate. In other situations, an entirely new will may be prepared without the elderly individual’s knowledge or understanding and given to the individual, who is told that it is a power of attorney, advance directive or some other legal document. A forged signature is another way that a dishonest heir can try to inherit, although this does require two others to be complicit as witnesses. If your loved one signed a will believing it was something else entirely or you believe her signature was forged, Peck Ritchey’s litigation attorneys in Chicago can get to the heart of the matter for you.
Consult With Our Litigation Attorneys in Chicago
If you’ve been wrongly excluded from the last will and testament of someone you believe intended to leave you an inheritance, contact our office today for a free consultation. Our probate litigation attorneys in Chicago can determine the nature of your claim and guide you through the court proceedings, protecting your rights as an heir.