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What to Do if You Were Unexpectedly Disinherited

Judith Trentman Wilson, Attorney at Law, P.C. Feb. 18, 2021

You may have a strained relationship with a loved one, but if you find out that upon your loved one’s death you were left out of their will, the news can come as a complete shock especially if you were told you would receive an inheritance, or you were listed as a beneficiary in a previous will. In such situations, you may want to consider contesting the will. Keep in mind that per Illinois law you only have a certain amount of time to contest a will in probate court.

Reasons to Contest a Will

Wills cannot be contested in court just because you do not like the terms of the will. You need to have a legally valid reason to contest the will. Some of these reasons are:

  • Your loved one lacked the mental capacity to know what they were doing when they executed the will;

  • Your loved one was coerced into signing the will;

  • Your loved one only signed the will under duress; or

  • The will was not properly executed with the necessary legal formalities

An attorney can assess your case to determine if you have standing to contest the will.

Obtain a Copy of The Will

One of the first steps to take is to obtain a copy of the will and compare it to a previous version if there was one. This is especially important if you believe your loved one signed their will under coercion, duress or diminished mental capacity. Last minute changes could show coercion, duress or a diminished ability to understand what they were doing.

File a Will Contest

If you have standing to contest a will, your attorney can file a will contest. If successful, it will invalidate the current will and enforce a previous one in which you were listed as a beneficiary. The burden of proof is on you to show why the current will should be invalidated and a previous one enforced.

Learn More About Wills

Being left out of a will when you were expecting an inheritance can be distressing. However, depending on the circumstances you may be able to challenge the will in court. This post is for educational purposes only and does not contain legal advice. Those in Illinois who want to learn more about wills and other estate planning topics can explore our firm’s website for further information.