By: Attorney Shira Truitt
It's easy, sometimes, to lean into the lingering emotions involved when a loved one has transitioned. That feeling becomes more intense when you believe your loved one made a will that they wouldn't have, that the distribution was not what you understood it to be, or that someone took advantage of your loved one and either had a will made or had the contents of an existing will changed so that it did not resemble what you think it should, based on your conversations with your loved one. That feeling can become intense, and you are better off thinking with your head about this. You've got some decisions to make, and none of them are easy. While it's not an easy decision, you may be thinking about contesting the will. So, let's talk about that.
A will contest is a legal challenge to the validity of a will. Will contests can be triggered by a number of different circumstances, including the discovery of a previously unknown will, allegations of undue influence or fraud, or a belief that the will does not accurately reflect the wishes of the testator (the person who created the will).
In Missouri, a will contest must be filed within six months of the appointment of a personal representative or the issuance of letters testamentary. The party challenging the will must have standing, which means that they must have a direct and substantial interest in the outcome of the case. Will contests in Missouri are typically heard in probate court. The court will consider evidence such as the mental capacity of the testator at the time the will was executed, the presence of undue influence or fraud, and the authenticity of the will.
In Illinois, a will contest must be filed within six months of the admission of the will to probate. The party challenging the will must have standing and must be able to demonstrate that they would be adversely affected by the will. Will contests in Illinois are also typically heard in probate court. The court will consider evidence such as the mental capacity of the testator at the time the will was executed, the presence of undue influence or fraud, and the authenticity of the will.
Overall, the circumstances that trigger a will contest and the process for handling them vary by state. Get control of your emotions, assess your circumstances and, if necessary, consult a competent attorney regarding your situation. You owe it to yourself and to your loved one.
"Missouri Probate Law" (https://www.aging.mo.gov/aging-in-missouri/advanced-directives/probate/)
"Probate in Illinois" (https://www.illinoislegalaid.org/legal-information/probate-illinois)
"Contesting a Will in Missouri" (https://www.hg.org/article.asp?id=43736)
"Contesting a Will in Illinois" (https://www.illinoislegalaid.org/legal-information/contesting-will-illinois)
If you need legal advice or a lawyer in Illinois or Missouri, please contact The Truitt Law Firm, LLC for assistance. For more information on The Truitt Law Firm, LLC or to schedule an appointment, please go to www.thetruittlawfirm.com.