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What happens to an Illinois estate if the will is invalid?

On Behalf of | Jul 13, 2023 | family law

Creating a will is the most common form of estate planning. But as common as it may be, some wills still have flaws and holes, making them susceptible to contests. If the court finds the invalidity claim correct, it will declare the will invalid and unenforceable. When this happens, a different set of rules will apply to administer the estate.

The state’s intestacy laws will apply.

If a will is found invalid upon the court’s initial review or a contest of a person with standing, it will be as if there was never a will in the first place. And without a will, an estate will be distributed according to Illinois’ intestacy laws. Under state laws, the estate administrator shall distribute the assets according to familial relationships, starting with the surviving spouse and children.

It is not easy to invalidate a will.

The law presumes the validity of wills, and the person challenging the document has to prove that there is a ground to contest the same and has evidence to prove it. In Illinois, grounds to contest a will includes lack of testamentary capacity, fraud, forgery, undue influence and revocation.

Moreover, only individuals with financial interests, rights and directly affected by the estate administration have standing to challenge a will’s validity.

The importance of careful drafting of a will

To prevent contests and ensure the execution of your wishes and instructions, it is essential to meticulously draft your will according to the law’s requirements. Understandably, it can be challenging to navigate estate planning laws as a nonlegal individual. Having a legal expert to review your will or draft one for you can help you avoid ambiguities and establish a solid will.